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21 November 2023 Heme Biosynthesis is Crucial for Cell Survival and Mitochondrial OXPHOS after X Irradiation
Tomoki Bo, Koen Van Wijk, Osamu Nakajima
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Heme is an essential component of the hemoproteins involved in the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC). Cancer cells have been reported to display high heme levels and increased activity of heme-containing proteins. Consistently, inhibition of heme biosynthesis by the ALAD inhibitor succinylacetone (SA) has been shown to reduce tumor cell survival. These observations indicate that heme biosynthesis is essential for cancer cell proliferation. X irradiation has been shown to increase mitochondrial mass, membrane potential, oxygen consumption, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and ATP synthesis. This finding suggests that radiation activates mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). However, although heme is an essential component of the mitochondrial ETC, whether radiation influences heme biosynthesis remains unclear. In this study, we evaluated heme biosynthesis activity after X irradiation and examined the effects of heme biosynthesis inhibition by SA on cellular radiosensitivity and mitochondrial OXPHOS function. We demonstrated that X irradiation significantly increased ALAS1 mRNA levels and cellular heme content. Inhibition of heme biosynthesis by SA significantly decreased cellular heme content and sensitized cancer cells to radiation. We also showed that SA reduced cellular ATP levels, mitochondrial membrane potential, and mitochondrial ROS production, suggesting mitochondrial OXPHOS dysfunction. SA decreased the expression of mitochondrial heme-related proteins COX2 and cytochrome c but did not influence COX1 and VDAC expression. These results indicate that inhibition of heme biosynthesis decreased mitochondrial ETC protein expression and OXPHOS activity, which triggered cellular ATP depletion and radiosensitization after X irradiation. In summary, heme biosynthesis is upregulated by X irradiation and is essential for mitochondrial OXPHOS and cell survival.

Tomoki Bo, Koen Van Wijk, and Osamu Nakajima "Heme Biosynthesis is Crucial for Cell Survival and Mitochondrial OXPHOS after X Irradiation," Radiation Research 201(1), 48-54, (21 November 2023).
Received: 7 March 2023; Accepted: 23 October 2023; Published: 21 November 2023
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