The potassium channel Kv1.3 is highly expressed in the mitochondria of various cancerous cells. Here we show that direct inhibition of Kv1.3 using two mitochondria-targeted inhibitors alters mitochondrial function and leads to reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated death of even chemoresistant cells independently of p53 status. These inhibitors killed 98% of ex vivo primary chronic B-lymphocytic leukemia tumor cells while sparing healthy B cells. In orthotopic mouse models of melanoma and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the compounds reduced tumor size by more than 90% and 60%, respectively, while sparing immune and cardiac functions. Our work provides direct evidence that specific pharmacological targeting of a mitochondrial potassium channel can lead to ROS-mediated selective apoptosis of cancer cells in vivo, without causing significant side effects.
Overcoming the resistance of tumours to chemotherapy, often due to downregulation of Bax and Bak, represents a significant clinical challenge. It is therefore important to identify novel apoptosis inducers that bypass Bax and Bak. Potassium channels are emerging as oncological targets and a crucial role of mitochondrial Kv1.3 in apoptosis has been demonstrated. Here we report for the first time that Psora-4, PAP-1 and clofazimine, three distinct membrane-permeant inhibitors of Kv1.3, induce death by directly targeting the mitochondrial channel in multiple human and mouse cancer cell lines. Importantly, these drugs activated the intrinsic apoptotic pathway also in the absence of Bax and Bak, a result in agreement with the current mechanistic model for mitochondrial Kv1.3 action. Genetic deficiency or short interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated downregulation of Kv1.3 abrogated the effects of the drugs. Intraperitoneal injection of clofazimine reduced tumour size by 90% in an orthotopic melanoma B16F10 mouse model in vivo, while no adverse effects were observed in several healthy tissues. The study indicates that inhibition of mitochondrial Kv1.3 might be a novel therapeutic option for the induction of cancer cell death independent of Bax and Bak.
Since the discovery of the participation of various ion channels in the regulation of cell proliferation and programmed cell death two decades ago, the field exploring ion channel function in relation to cancer has undergone rapid development. Although the mechanisms accounting for the impact of ion channel modulators on cancer growth have not been fully clarified in all cases, numerous in vivo experiments targeting diverse ion channels in various cancer models illustrate the great potentiality of this approach and promote ion channels to the class of oncological targets. In the present review we give an updated overview of the field and critically discuss the promising results obtained in pre-clinical models using specific pharmacological modulators of calcium, sodium, potassium and anion-permeable ion channels, whose expression is often altered in tumor cells and tissues. The most, especially critical issues are specificity of action and side-effects. Interestingly, some of the most potent drugs are natural products, and several of the active compounds are already used in the clinic for other purposes. In these latter cases involving drug repositioning we may expect a faster progression from preclinical to clinical studies. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Calcium and Cell Fate. Guest Editors: Jacques Haiech, Claus Heizmann, Joachim Krebs, Thierry Capiod and Olivier Mignen.
Mitochondria, the key bioenergetic intracellular organelles, harbor a number of proteins with proven or hypothetical ion channel functions. Growing evidence points to the important contribution of these channels to the regulation of mitochondrial function, such as ion homeostasis imbalances profoundly affecting energy transducing processes, reactive oxygen species production and mitochondrial integrity. Given the central role of mitochondria in apoptosis, their ion channels with the potential to compromise mitochondrial function have become promising targets for the treatment of malignancies. Importantly, in vivo evidence demonstrates the involvement of the proton-transporting uncoupling protein, a mitochondrial potassium channel, the outer membrane located porin and the permeability transition pore in tumor progression/control. In this review, we focus on mitochondrial channels that have been assigned a definite role in cell death regulation and possess clear oncological relevance. Overall, based on in vivo and in vitro genetic and pharmacological evidence, mitochondrial ion channels are emerging as promising targets for cancer treatment.
Several types of channels play a role in the maintenance of ion homeostasis in subcellular organelles including endoplasmatic reticulum, nucleus, lysosome, endosome, and mitochondria. Here we give a brief overview of the contribution of various mitochondrial and other organellar channels to cancer cell proliferation or death. Much attention is focused on channels involved in intracellular calcium signaling and on ion fluxes in the ATP-producing organelle mitochondria. Mitochondrial K+ channels (Ca2+-dependent BKCa and IKCa, ATP-dependent KATP, Kv1.3, two-pore TWIK-related Acid-Sensitive K+ channel-3 (TASK-3)), Ca2+ uniporter MCU, Mg2+-permeable Mrs2, anion channels (voltage-dependent chloride channel VDAC, intracellular chloride channel CLIC) and the Permeability Transition Pore (MPTP) contribute importantly to the regulation of function in this organelle. Since mitochondria play a central role in apoptosis, modulation of their ion channels by pharmacological means may lead to death of cancer cells. The nuclear potassium channel Kv10.1 and the nuclear chloride channel CLIC4 as well as the endoplasmatic reticulum (ER)-located inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) receptor, the ER-located Ca2+ depletion sensor STIM1 (stromal interaction molecule 1), a component of the store-operated Ca2+ channel and the ER-resident TRPM8 are also mentioned. Furthermore, pharmacological tools affecting organellar channels and modulating cancer cell survival are discussed. The channels described in this review are summarized on Figure 1. Overall, the view is emerging that intracellular ion channels may represent a promising target for cancer treatment.
Highlights d Mitochondrial ATP is necessary to sustain Wnt signaling d Respiratory chain complex inhibition leads to reduced calcium uptake into the ER d A defect in complex III assembly causes impairments in Wnt signaling
Members of the Bcl-2 family play key roles as proapoptotic (e.g., Bax) and antiapoptotic (e.g., Bcl-x L ) regulators of programmed cell death. We previously identified the mitochondrial potassium channel Kv1.3 as a novel target of Bax. Incubating Kv1.3-positive isolated mitochondria with Bax triggered apoptotic events, whereas Kv1.3-deficient mitochondria were resistant to this stimulus. Mutation of Bax at lysine 128 (BaxK128E) abrogated its effects on Kv1.3 and the induction of apoptotic changes in mitochondria. These data indicate a toxin-like action of Bax on Kv1.3 to trigger at least some of the mitochondrial changes typical for apoptosis. To gain insight into the mechanism of Bax-Kv1.3 interaction, we mutated Glu158 of Bcl-x L (corresponding to K128 in Bax) to lysine. This substitution turned Bcl-x L proapoptotic. Transfection of double knockout (Bax À/À /Bak À/À ) mouse embryonic fibroblasts (DKO MEFs) with either wild-type Bax, BaxK128E, or Bcl-x L E158K showed that apoptosis induced by various stimuli was defective in DKO MEFs and BaxK128E-transfected cells, but was recovered upon transfection with Bcl-xLE158K or wild-type Bax. Both wild-type Bax and BaxK128E can form similar ion-conducting pores upon incorporation into planar lipid bilayers. Our results point to a physiologically relevant interaction of Bax with Kv1.3 and further indicate a crucial role of a distinct lysine in determining the proapoptotic character of Bcl2-family proteins.
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