Research Papers:

The prohibitin protein complex promotes mitochondrial stabilization and cell survival in hematologic malignancies

Jeremy A. Ross, Elisa Robles-Escajeda, Derrick M. Oaxaca, Diana L. Padilla and Robert A. Kirken _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:65445-65456. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18920

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Jeremy A. Ross1,*, Elisa Robles-Escajeda1,*, Derrick M. Oaxaca1, Diana L. Padilla1 and Robert A. Kirken1

1Department of Biological Sciences and Border Biomedical Research Center, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968, USA

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Robert A. Kirken, email: [email protected]

Keywords: prohibitin, lymphoma, leukemia, mitochondria, apoptosis

Received: August 15, 2016     Accepted: June 16, 2017     Published: July 01, 2017


Prohibitins (PHB1 and PHB2) have been proposed to play important roles in cancer development and progression, however their oncogenic mechanism of action has not been fully elucidated. Previously, we showed that the PHB1 and PHB2 protein complex is required for mitochondrial homeostasis and survival of normal human lymphocytes. In this study, novel evidence is provided that indicates mitochondrial prohibitins are overexpressed in hematologic tumor cells and promote cell survival under conditions of oxidative stress. Immunofluorescent confocal microscopy revealed both proteins to be primarily confined to mitochondria in primary patient lymphoid and myeloid tumor cells and tumor cell lines, including Kit225 cells. Subsequently, siRNA-mediated knockdown of PHB1 and PHB2 in Kit225 cells significantly enhanced sensitivity to H2O2-induced cell death, suggesting a protective or anti-apoptotic function in hematologic malignancies. Indeed, PHB1 and PHB2 protein levels were significantly higher in tumor cells isolated from leukemia and lymphoma patients compared to PBMCs from healthy donors. These findings suggest that PHB1 and PHB2 are upregulated during tumorigenesis to maintain mitochondrial integrity and therefore may serve as novel biomarkers and molecular targets for therapeutic intervention in certain types of hematologic malignancies.

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