Despite the established role of mitochondria in tumorigenesis, the molecular mechanisms by which mitochondrial Ca2+ (mtCa2+) signaling regulates tumor growth and metastasis remain unknown. The crucial role of mtCa2+ in tumorigenesis is highlighted by the altered expression of proteins mediating mtCa2+ uptake and extrusion in cancer cells. Here, we demonstrate that expression of the mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ exchanger NCLX (SLC8B1) is decreased in colorectal tumors and is associated with advanced-stage disease in patients. We reveal that downregulation of NCLX leads to mtCa2+ overload, mitochondrial depolarization, mitophagy, and reduced tumor size. Concomitantly, NCLX downregulation drives metastatic spread, chemoresistance, the expression of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), hypoxia, and stem cell pathways. Mechanistically, mtCa2+ overload leads to an increase in mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mtROS) which activates HIF1α signaling supporting the metastatic behavior of tumor cells lacking NCLX. Our results reveal that loss of NCLX expression is a novel driver of metastatic progression, indicating that control of mtCa2+ levels is a novel therapeutic approach in metastatic colorectal cancer.
|Publisher||Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press|