Accumulating evidence indicates that the MDM2 oncoprotein promotes tumorigenesis beyond its canonical negative effects on the p53 tumor suppressor, but these p53-independent functions remain poorly understood. Here, we show that a fraction of endogenous MDM2 is actively imported in mitochondria to control respiration and mitochondrial dynamics independently of p53. Mitochondrial MDM2 represses the transcription of NADH-dehydrogenase 6 (MT-ND6) in vitro and in vivo, impinging on respiratory complex I activity and enhancing mitochondrial ROS production. Recruitment of MDM2 to mitochondria increases during oxidative stress and hypoxia. Accordingly, mice lacking MDM2 in skeletal muscles exhibit higher MT-ND6 levels, enhanced complex I activity, and increased muscular endurance in mild hypoxic conditions. Furthermore, increased mitochondrial MDM2 levels enhance the migratory and invasive properties of cancer cells. Collectively, these data uncover a previously unsuspected function of the MDM2 oncoprotein in mitochondria that play critical roles in skeletal muscle physiology and may contribute to tumor progression. Arena et al. show that the proto-oncogene MDM2 is recruited to mitochondria independently of its well-known partner p53. By repressing transcription of a specific subunit of the electron transport chain encoded by the mitochondrial genome, mitochondrial MDM2 controls respiration, influencing skeletal muscle function and cancer cell migration.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology