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Chasing The FOXO3: Insights Into Its New Mitochondrial Lair In Colorectal Cancer Landscape

Valentina Grossi, Candida Fasano, Valentina Celestini, Martina Lepore Signorile, Paola Sanese, Cristiano Simone

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Colorectal cancer (CRC) poses a formidable challenge in terms of molecular heterogeneity, as it involves a variety of cancer-related pathways and molecular changes unique to an individual’s tumor. On the other hand, recent advances in DNA sequencing technologies provide an unprecedented capacity to comprehensively identify the genetic alterations resulting in tumorigenesis, raising the hope that new therapeutic approaches based on molecularly targeted drugs may prevent the occurrence of chemoresistance. Regulation of the transcription factor FOXO3a in response to extracellular cues plays a fundamental role in cellular homeostasis, being part of the molecular machinery that drives cells towards survival or death. Indeed, FOXO3a is controlled by a range of external stimuli, which not only influence its transcriptional activity, but also affect its subcellular localization. These regulation mechanisms are mediated by cancer-related signaling pathways that eventually drive changes in FOXO3a post-translational modifications (e.g., phosphorylation). Recent results showed that FOXO3a is imported into the mitochondria in tumor cells and tissues subjected to metabolic stress and cancer therapeutics, where it induces expression of the mitochondrial genome to support mitochondrial metabolism and cell survival. The current review discusses the potential clinical relevance of multidrug therapies that drive cancer cell fate by regulating critical pathways converging on FOXO3a.