Tumors adapt to an unfavorable microenvironment by controlling the balance between cell proliferation and cell motility, but the regulators of this process are largely unknown. Here, we show that an alternatively spliced isoform of syntaphilin (SNPH), a cytoskeletal regulator of mitochondrial movements in neurons, is directed to mitochondria of tumor cells. Mitochondrial SNPH buffers oxidative stress and maintains complex II–dependent bioenergetics, sustaining local tumor growth while restricting mitochondrial redistribution to the cortical cytoskeleton and tumor cell motility. Conversely, introduction of stress stimuli to the microenvironment, including hypoxia, acutely lowered SNPH levels, resulting in bioenergetics defects and increased superoxide production. In turn, this suppressed tumor cell proliferation but increased tumor cell invasion via greater mitochondrial trafficking to the cortical cytoskeleton. Loss of SNPH or expression of an SNPH mutant lacking the mitochondrial localization sequence resulted in increased metastatic dissemination in xenograft or syngeneic tumor models in vivo. Accordingly, tumor cells that acquired the ability to metastasize in vivo constitutively downregulated SNPH and exhibited higher oxidative stress, reduced cell proliferation, and increased cell motility. Therefore, SNPH is a stress-regulated mitochondrial switch of the cell proliferation-motility balance in cancer, and its pathway may represent a therapeutic target.
M. Cecilia Caino, Jae Ho Seo, Yuan Wang, Dayana B. Rivadeneira, Dmitry I. Gabrilovich, Eui Tae Kim, Ashani T. Weeraratna, Lucia R. Languino, Dario C. Altieri
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.