Survivin is a multifunctional protein with essential roles in cell division and inhibition of apoptosis, but the molecular underpinnings of its cytoprotective properties are poorly understood. Here we show that homozygous deletion of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor-interacting protein (AIP), a survivin-associated immunophilin, causes embryonic lethality in mice by embryonic day 13.5-14, increased apoptosis of Ter119-/CD71 - early erythropoietic progenitors, and loss of survivin expression in its cytosolic and mitochondrial compartments in vivo. In import assays using recombinant proteins, AIP directly mediated the import of survivin to mitochondria, thus enabling its anti-apoptotic function, whereas a survivin 1-141 mutant that does not bind AIP was not imported to mitochondria and failed to inhibit apoptosis. AIP-directed mitochondrial import of survivin did not affect cell division, was independent of the organelle transmembrane potential, did not require the chaperone Heat Shock Protein 90 (Hsp90), and was inhibited by cytosolic factor(s) present in normal cells. shRNA knockdown of the mitochondrial import receptor Tom20 abolished mitochondrial import of survivin and sensitized tumor cells to apoptosis, whereas silencing of Tom70 had no effect. Therefore, an AIP-Tom20 recognition contributes to cell survival in development and cancer by mediating the mitochondrial import of survivin.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology