Although mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in tumor metastasis, it is unclear how it regulates tumor cell aggressiveness. Previously, we reported that human hepatoma cells harboring mitochondrial defects have high tumor cell invasion activity via increased claudin-1 (Cln-1) expression. In this study, we demonstrated that mitochondrial respiratory defects induced Cln-1 transcription via reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated activation signal, which contributed to hepatoma invasiveness. We first confirmed the inverse relationship between mitochondrial defects and Cln-1 induction in SNU hepatoma cells and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissues. We then examined five different respiratory complex inhibitors, and complex I inhibition by rotenone most effectively induced Cln-1 at the transcriptional level. Rotenone increased both mitochondrial and cytosolic ROS. In addition, the rotenone-induced Cln-1 expression was attenuated by N-acetyl cysteine, an antioxidant, and exogenous H2O2 treatment was enough to increase Cln-1 transcription, implying the involvement of ROS. Taken together, these results indicate that mitochondrial respiratory defects enhance Cln-1-mediated hepatoma cell invasiveness via mitochondrial ROS-mediated activation signal.
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