SirT3 suppresses hypoxia inducible factor 1α and tumor growth by inhibiting mitochondrial ROS production

Oncogene. 2011 Jun 30;30(26):2986-96. doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.37. Epub 2011 Feb 28.


It has become increasing clear that alterations in cellular metabolism have a key role in the generation and maintenance of cancer. Some of the metabolic changes can be attributed to the activation of oncogenes or loss of tumor suppressors. Here, we show that the mitochondrial sirtuin, SirT3, acts as a tumor suppressor via its ability to suppress reactive oxygen species (ROS) and regulate hypoxia inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α). Primary mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) or tumor cell lines expressing SirT3 short-hairpin RNA exhibit a greater potential to proliferate, and augmented HIF-1α protein stabilization and transcriptional activity in hypoxic conditions. SirT3 knockdown increases tumorigenesis in xenograft models, and this is abolished by giving mice the anti-oxidant N-acetyl cysteine. Moreover, overexpression of SirT3 inhibits stabilization of HIF-1α protein in hypoxia and attenuates increases in HIF-1α transcriptional activity. Critically, overexpression of SirT3 decreases tumorigenesis in xenografts, even when induction of the sirtuin occurs after tumor initiation. These data suggest that SirT3 acts to suppress the growth of tumors, at least in part through its ability to suppress ROS and HIF-1α.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation* / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / genetics*
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Sirtuin 3 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Sirtuin 3 / genetics
  • Sirtuin 3 / metabolism
  • Sirtuin 3 / physiology*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • HIF1A protein, human
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • SIRT3 protein, human
  • Sirtuin 3