Cytoglobin protects cancer cells from apoptosis by regulation of mitochondrial cardiolipin

Lorna S Thorne, Garret Rochford, Timothy D Williams, Andrew D Southam, Giovanny Rodriguez-Blanco, Warwick B Dunn, Nikolas J Hodges

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Cytoglobin is important in the progression of oral squamous cell carcinoma but the molecular and cellular basis remain to be elucidated. In the current study, we develop a new cell model to study the function of cytoglobin in oral squamous carcinoma and response to cisplatin. Transcriptomic profiling showed cytoglobin mediated changes in expression of genes related to stress response, redox metabolism, mitochondrial function, cell adhesion, and fatty acid metabolism. Cellular and biochemical studies show that cytoglobin expression results in changes to phenotype associated with cancer progression including: increased cellular proliferation, motility and cell cycle progression. Cytoglobin also protects cells from cisplatin-induced apoptosis and oxidative stress with levels of the antioxidant glutathione increased and total and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species levels reduced. The mechanism of cisplatin resistance involved inhibition of caspase 9 activation and cytoglobin protected mitochondria from oxidative stress-induced fission. To understand the mechanism behind these phenotypic changes we employed lipidomic analysis and demonstrate that levels of the redox sensitive and apoptosis regulating cardiolipin are significantly up-regulated in cells expressing cytoglobin. In conclusion, our data shows that cytoglobin expression results in important phenotypic changes that could be exploited by cancer cells in vivo to facilitate disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number985
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2021


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