Mortalin (HSPA9) facilitates BRAF-mutant tumor cell survival by suppressing ANT3-mediated mitochondrial membrane permeability

Pui Kei Wu, Seung Keun Hong, Wenjing Chen, Andrew E. Becker, Rebekah L. Gundry, Chien Wei Lin, Hao Shao, Jason E. Gestwicki, Jong In Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Mortalin [also known as heat shock protein family A (HSP70) member 9 (HSPA9) or glucose-regulated protein 75 (GRP75)] is a mitochondrial molecular chaperone that is often up-regulated and mislocalized in tumors with abnormal activation of the kinases MEK and ERK. Here, we found that mortalin depletion was selectively lethal to tumor and immortalized normal cells expressing the mutant kinase B-RafV600E or the chimeric protein ΔRaf-1:ER and that MEK-ERK–sensitive regulation of the peptide-binding domain in mortalin was critical to cell survival or death. Proteomics screening identified adenine nucleotide translocase 3 (ANT3) as a previously unknown mortalin substrate and cell survival/death effector. Mechanistically, increased MEK-ERK signaling activity and mortalin function converged opposingly on the regulation of mitochondrial permeability. Specifically, whereas MEK-ERK activity increased mitochondrial permeability by promoting the interaction between ANT3 and the peptidyl-prolyl isomerase cyclophilin D (CypD), mortalin decreased mitochondrial permeability by inhibiting this interaction. Hence, mortalin depletion increased mitochondrial permeability in MEK-ERK–deregulated cells to an extent that triggered cell death. HSP70 inhibitor derivatives that effectively inhibited mortalin suppressed the proliferation of B-RafV600E tumor cells in culture and in vivo, including their B-Raf inhibitor–resistant progenies. These findings suggest that targeting mortalin has potential as a selective therapeutic strategy in B-Raf–mutant or MEK-ERK–driven tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaay1478
JournalScience signaling
Issue number622
StatePublished - Mar 10 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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