Transforming growth factor β1 (TGF β1) induces Mv1Lu cell senescence by persistently producing mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) through decreased complex IV activity. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanism underlying the effect of TGF β1 on mitochondrial complex IV activity. TGF β1 progressively phosphorylated the negative regulatory sites of both glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) α and β, corresponding well to the intracellular ROS generation profile. Pre-treatment of N-acetyl cysteine, an antioxidant, did not alter this GSK3 phosphorylation (inactivation), whereas pharmacological inhibition of GSK3 by SB415286 significantly increased mitochondrial ROS, implying that GSK3 phosphorylation is an upstream event of the ROS generation. GSK3 inhibition by SB415286 decreased complex IV activity and cellular O(2) consumption rate and eventually induced senescence of Mv1Lu cell. Similar results were obtained with siRNA-mediated knockdown of GSK3. Moreover, we found that GSK3 not only exists in cytosol but also in mitochondria of Mv1Lu cell and the mitochondrial GSK3 binds complex IV subunit 6b which has no electron carrier and is topologically located in the mitochondrial intermembrane space. Involvement of subunit 6b in controlling complex IV activity and overall respiration rate was proved with siRNA-mediated knockdown of subunit 6b. Finally, TGF β1 treatment decreased the binding of the subunit 6b to GSK3 and subunit 6b phosphorylation. Taken together, our results suggest that GSK3 inactivation is importantly involved in TGF β1-induced complex IV defects through decreasing phosphorylation of the subunit 6b, thereby contributing to senescence-associated mitochondrial ROS generation.
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