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Interplay Between Mitochondrial Metabolism And Cellular Redox State Dictates Cancer Cell Survival

Brittney Joy-Anne Foo, Jie Qing Eu, Jayshree L. Hirpara, Shazib Pervaiz

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Mitochondria are the main powerhouse of the cell, generating ATP through the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA) and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), which drives myriad cellular processes. In addition to their role in maintaining bioenergetic homeostasis, changes in mitochondrial metabolism, permeability, and morphology are critical in cell fate decisions and determination. Notably, mitochondrial respiration coupled with the passage of electrons through the electron transport chain (ETC) set up a potential source of reactive oxygen species (ROS). While low to moderate increase in intracellular ROS serves as secondary messenger, an overwhelming increase as a result of either increased production and/or deficient antioxidant defenses is detrimental to biomolecules, cells, and tissues. Since ROS and mitochondria both regulate cell fate, attention has been drawn to their involvement in the various processes of carcinogenesis. To that end, the link between a prooxidant milieu and cell survival and proliferation as well as a switch to mitochondrial OXPHOS associated with recalcitrant cancers provide testimony for the remarkable metabolic plasticity as an important hallmark of cancers. In this review, the regulation of cell redox status by mitochondrial metabolism and its implications for cancer cell fate will be discussed followed by the significance of mitochondria-targeted therapies for cancer.