Lon upregulation contributes to cisplatin resistance by triggering NCLX-mediated mitochondrial Ca2+ release in cancer cells

Vidhya Tangeda, Yu Kang Lo, Ananth Ponneri Babuharisankar, Han Yu Chou, Cheng Liang Kuo, Yung Hsi Kao, Alan Yueh Luen Lee, Jang Yang Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Mitochondria are the major organelles in sensing cellular stress and inducing the response for cell survival. Mitochondrial Lon has been identified as an important stress protein involved in regulating proliferation, metastasis, and apoptosis in cancer cells. However, the mechanism of retrograde signaling by Lon on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage remains to be elucidated. Here we report the role of Lon in the response to cisplatin-induced mtDNA damage and oxidative stress, which confers cancer cells on cisplatin resistance via modulating calcium levels in mitochondria and cytosol. First, we found that cisplatin treatment on oral cancer cells caused oxidative damage of mtDNA and induced Lon expression. Lon overexpression in cancer cells decreased while Lon knockdown sensitized the cytotoxicity towards cisplatin treatment. We further identified that cisplatin-induced Lon activates the PYK2-SRC-STAT3 pathway to stimulate Bcl-2 and IL-6 expression, leading to the cytotoxicity resistance to cisplatin. Intriguingly, we found that activation of this pathway is through an increase of intracellular calcium (Ca2+) via NCLX, a mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ exchanger. We then verified that NCLX expression is dependent on Lon levels; Lon interacts with and activates NCLX activity. NCLX inhibition increased the level of mitochondrial calcium and sensitized the cytotoxicity to cisplatin in vitro and in vivo. In summary, mitochondrial Lon-induced cisplatin resistance is mediated by calcium release into cytosol through NCLX, which activates calcium-dependent PYK2-SRC-STAT3-IL-6 pathway. Thus, our work uncovers the novel retrograde signaling by mitochondrial Lon on resistance to cisplatin-induced mtDNA stress, indicating the potential use of Lon and NCLX inhibitors for better clinical outcomes in chemoresistant cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number241
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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