The Journal of biological chemistry

Identification and functional characterization of nuclear mortalin in human carcinogenesis.

PMID 25012652


The Hsp70 family protein mortalin is an essential chaperone that is frequently enriched in cancer cells and exists in various subcellular sites, including the mitochondrion, plasma membrane, endoplasmic reticulum, and cytosol. Although the molecular mechanisms underlying its multiple subcellular localizations are not yet clear, their functional significance has been revealed by several studies. In this study, we examined the nuclear fractions of human cells and found that the malignantly transformed cells have more mortalin than the normal cells. We then generated a mortalin mutant that lacked a mitochondrial targeting signal peptide. It was largely localized in the nucleus, and, hence, is called nuclear mortalin (mot-N). Functional characterization of mot-N revealed that it efficiently protects cancer cells against endogenous and exogenous oxidative stress. Furthermore, compared with the full-length mortalin overexpressing cancer cells, mot-N derivatives showed increased malignant properties, including higher proliferation rate, colony forming efficacy, motility, and tumor forming capacity both in in vitro and in vivo assays. We demonstrate that mot-N promotes carcinogenesis and cancer cell metastasis by inactivation of tumor suppressor protein p53 functions and by interaction and functional activation of telomerase and heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein K (hnRNP-K) proteins.

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