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Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US. Understanding the mechanisms of CRC progression is essential to improve treatment. Mitochondria is the powerhouse for healthy cells. However, in tumor cells, less energy is produced by the mitochondria and metabolic reprogramming is an early hallmark of cancer. The metabolic differences between normal and cancer cells are being interrogated to uncover new therapeutic approaches. Mitochondria targeting PTEN-induced kinase 1 (PINK1) is a key regulator of mitophagy, the selective elimination of damaged mitochondria by autophagy. Defective mitophagy is increasingly associated with various diseases including CRC. However, a significant gap exists in our understanding of how PINK1-dependent mitophagy participates in the metabolic regulation of CRC. By mining Oncomine, we found that PINK1 expression was downregulated in human CRC tissues compared to normal colons. Moreover, disruption of PINK1 increased colon tumorigenesis in two colitis-associated CRC mouse models, suggesting that PINK1 functions as a tumor suppressor in CRC. PINK1 overexpression in murine colon tumor cells promoted mitophagy, decreased glycolysis and increased mitochondrial respiration potentially via activation of p53 signaling pathways. In contrast, PINK1 deletion decreased apoptosis, increased glycolysis, and reduced mitochondrial respiration and p53 signaling. Interestingly, PINK1 overexpression in vivo increased apoptotic cell death and suppressed colon tumor xenograft growth. Metabolomic analysis revealed that acetyl-CoA was significantly reduced in tumors with PINK1 overexpression, which was partly due to activation of the HIF-1α-pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) kinase 1 (PDHK1)-PDHE1α axis. Strikingly, treating mice with acetate increased acetyl-CoA levels and rescued PINK1-suppressed tumor growth. Importantly, PINK1 disruption simultaneously increased xenografted tumor growth and acetyl-CoA production. In conclusion, mitophagy protein PINK1 suppresses colon tumor growth by metabolic reprogramming and reducing acetyl-CoA production.
Kunlun Yin,Jordan Lee,Zhaoli Liu,Hyeoncheol Kim,David R Martin,Dandan Wu,Meilian Liu,Xiang Xue