Mitochondria as oncotarget: a comparison between the tetracycline analogs doxycycline and COL-3
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Margherita Protasoni1, Albert M. Kroon1 and Jan-Willem Taanman1
1Department of Clinical and Movement Neurosciences, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, NW3 2PF, UK
Jan-Willem Taanman, email: [email protected]
Keywords: cancer; COL-3; doxycycline; mitochondria; tetracycline
Received: April 28, 2018 Accepted: August 24, 2018 Published: September 18, 2018
Tetracyclines have anticancer properties in addition to their well-known antibacterial properties. It has been proposed that tetracyclines slow metastasis and angiogenesis through inhibition of matrix metalloproteinases. However, we believe that the anticancer effect of tetracyclines is due to their inhibition of mitochondrial protein synthesis, resulting in a decrease of the mitochondrial energy generating capacity. Several groups have developed analogs that are void of antibacterial action. An example is COL-3, which is currently tested for its anticancer effects in clinical trials. We have undertaken a comparative study of the tetracycline analogs COL-3 and doxycycline, which has an antibacterial function, to further investigate the role of the mitochondrial energy generating capacity in the anticancer mechanism and, thereby, evaluate the usefulness of mitochondria as an oncotarget. Our experiments with cultures of the human A549, COLO357 and HT29 cancer cells and fibroblasts indicated that COL-3 is significantly more cytotoxic than doxycycline. Mitochondrial translation assays demonstrated that COL-3 has retained its inhibitory effect on mitochondrial protein synthesis. Both drugs caused a severe decrease in the levels of mitochondrially encoded cytochrome-c oxidase subunits and cytochrome-c oxidase activity. In addition, COL-3 produced a marked drop in the level of nuclear-encoded succinate dehydrogenase subunit A and citrate synthase activity, indicating that COL-3 has multiple inhibitory effects. Contrary to COL-3, the anticancer action of doxycycline appears to be based specifically on inhibition of mitochondrial protein synthesis, which is thought to affect rapidly proliferating cancer cells more than healthy tissue. Doxycycline is likely to cause less side effects that COL-3.
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