Disrupting CISD2 function in cancer cells primarily impacts mitochondrial labile iron levels and triggers TXNIP expression

Ola Karmi, Yang Sung Sohn, Sara I. Zandalinas, Linda Rowland, Skylar D. King, Rachel Nechushtai, Ron Mittler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The CISD2 (NAF-1) protein plays a key role in regulating cellular homeostasis, aging, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. It was found to control different calcium, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and iron signaling mechanisms. However, since most studies of CISD2 to date were conducted with cells that constitutively lack, overexpress, or contain mutations in CISD2, the relationships between these different signaling processes are unclear. To address the hierarchy of signaling events occurring in cells upon CISD2 disruption, we developed an inducible system to express CISD2, or the dominant-negative H114C inhibitor of CISD2, in human breast cancer cells. Here, we report that inducible disruption of CISD2 function causes an immediate disruption in mitochondrial labile iron (mLI), and that this disruption results in enhanced mitochondrial ROS (mROS) levels. We further show that alterations in cytosolic and ER calcium levels occur only after the changes in mLI and mROS levels happen and are unrelated to them. Interestingly, disrupting CISD2 function resulted in the enhanced expression of the tumor suppressor thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP) that was dependent on the accumulation of mLI and associated with ferroptosis activation. CISD2 could therefore regulate the expression of TXNIP in cancer cells, and this regulation is dependent on alterations in mLI levels.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)92-104
Number of pages13
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - 20 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.


  • CISD2
  • Cancer
  • Ferroptosis
  • Iron homeostasis
  • Iron-sulfur cluster [Fe–S]
  • Mitochondria
  • NAF-1
  • Oxidative stress
  • Reactive oxygen species (ROS)


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