22 February 2018

Mitoptosis by metastases

The only reliable way to stop metastasis is to cause the death of cancer cells. Unfortunately, some malignant cells have mechanisms that block the process of cell death. This leads to their growth and spread beyond the primary tumor.

A group of researchers from the University of Notre Dame (USA) has discovered an enzyme whose activation can suppress the spread of the tumor.

Protein kinase 1 interacting with the receptor (receptor-interacting protein kinase 1, RIPK) turned out to be under the gun of scientists: it reduces the number of mitochondria in the cell. The loss of mitochondria leads to oxidative stress and can trigger cell death. However, the authors do not rule out that cancer cells are able to bypass this effect.

The RIPK1 enzyme, activated inside the cell, reduces the number of mitochondria – energy stations. As a result of mitoptosis (death of mitochondria), the cell experiences hunger and begins to consume its own reserves, and then dies due to the accumulation of oxidation products.

It has previously been proven that RIPK1 is involved in the process of necrotic cell death. All the more surprising is the discovery of a new mechanism of action of RIPK1 associated with a decrease in the number of mitochondria.

During metastasis, the cancer cell separates from the intercellular matrix, which is a "construction factory" for it. In order to survive in harsh conditions outside the matrix, the cell must quickly adapt to the metabolic changes that have occurred. Exposure to the RIPK1 enzyme at this stage, when the cancer cell is weakened and needs energy, can cause its death and stop the spread of the tumor.

The authors hope that their discovery will help develop a strategy to combat cancer metastasis. The development is in its infancy, but it has potential. Additional research is needed, both in animals and in human cell culture. Perhaps the RIPK1 enzyme will become a flagship in the fight against metastases – the main cause of death of cancer patients.

Article by M. A. Hawk et al. RIPK1-mediated induction of mitophagy compromises the viability of extracellular-matrix-detached cells published in the journal Nature.

Aminat Adzhieva, portal "Eternal Youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on Notre Dame News: Researchers discover novel mechanism linking changes in mitochondria to cancer cell death.

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