Constitutive activation of NAD-dependent sirtuin 3 plays an important role in tumorigenesis of chromium(VI)-transformed cells

Marco Clementino, Donghern Kim, Zhuo Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Chronic exposure of human bronchial epithelial BEAS-2B cells to hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] causes malignant cell transformation. Sirtuin-3 (SIRT3) regulates mitochondrial adaptive response to stress, such as metabolic reprogramming and antioxidant defense mechanisms. In Cr(VI)-transformed cells, SIRT3 was upregulated and mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production and proton leak were reduced. Knockdown of SIRT3 by its shRNA further decreased mitochondrial ATP production, proton leak, mitochondrial mass, and mitochondrial membrane potential, indicating that SIRT3 positively regulates mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and maintenance of mitochondrial integrity. Mitophagy is critical to maintain proper cellular functions. In Cr(VI)-transformed cells expressions of Pink 1 and Parkin, two mitophagy proteins, were elevated, and mitophagy remained similar as that in passage-matched normal BEAS-2B cells, indicating that in -Cr(VI)-transformed cells mitophagy is suppressed. Knockdown of SIRT3 induced mitophagy, suggesting that SIRT3 plays an important role in mitophagy suppression of Cr(VI)-transformed cells. In Cr(VI)-transformed cells, nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) was constitutively activated, and protein levels of p62 and p-p62Ser349 were elevated. Knockdown of SIRT3 or treatment with carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenyl hydrazone (CCCP) decreased the binding of p-p62Ser349 to Keap1, resulting in increased binding of Keap1 to Nrf2 and consequently reduced Nrf2 activation. The results from CHIP assay showed that in Cr(VI)-transformed cells binding of Nrf2 to antioxidant response element (ARE) of SIRT3 gene promoter was dramatically increased. Knockdown of SIRT3 suppressed cell proliferation and tumorigenesis of Cr(VI)-transformed cells. Overexpression of SIRT3 in normal BEAS-2B cells exhibited mitophagy suppression phenotype and increased cell proliferation and tumorigenesis. The present study demonstrated that upregulation of SIRT3 causes mitophagy suppression and plays an important role in cell survival and tumorigenesis of Cr(VI)-transformed cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-234
Number of pages11
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIH/NIEHS/R01ES021771, P30 ES026529, and the Redox Metabolism Shared Resource of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center (P30CA177558).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Toxicology.


  • Carcinogenesis
  • Chromium(VI)
  • Mitophagy
  • Oxidative stress
  • SIRT3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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