The mitochondrial protein C1qbp promotes cell proliferation, migration and resistance to cell death

Cell Cycle. 2011 Dec 1;10(23):4119-27. doi: 10.4161/cc.10.23.18287. Epub 2011 Dec 1.


Complement 1q-Binding Protein (C1qbp) is a mitochondrial protein reported to be upregulated in cancer. However, whether C1qbp plays a tumor suppressive or tumorigenic role in the progression of cancer is controversial. Moreover, the exact effects of C1qbp on cell proliferation, migration, and death/survival have not been definitely proven. To this end, we comprehensively examined the effects of C1qbp on mitochondrial-dependent cell death, proliferation, and migration in both normal and breast cancer cells using genetic gain- and loss-of-function approaches. In normal fibroblasts, overexpression of C1qbp protected the cells against staurosporine-induce apoptosis, increased proliferation, decreased cellular ATP, and increased cell migration in a wound-healing assay. In contrast, the opposite effects were observed in fibroblasts depleted of C1qbp by RNA interference. C1qbp expression was found to be markedly elevated in 4 different human breast cancer cell lines as well as in ductal and adenocarcinoma tumors from breast cancer patients. Stable knockdown of C1qbp by shRNA in the aggressive MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line greatly reduced cell proliferation, increased ATP levels, and decreased cell migration compared to control shRNA-transfected cells. Moreover, C1qbp knockdown elicited a significant increase in doxorubicin-induced apoptosis in the MDA-MB-231 cells. Finally, C1qbp upregulation was not restricted to breast cancer cells and tumors, as levels of C1qbp were also found to be significantly elevated in both human lung and colon cancer cell lines and carcinomas. Together, these results establish a pro-tumor, rather than anti-tumor, role for C1qbp, and indicate that C1qbp could serve as a molecular target for cancer therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Adenoviridae / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Death*
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • HCT116 Cells
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / genetics
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference
  • Staurosporine / pharmacology
  • Transfection
  • Wound Healing


  • C1QBP protein, human
  • C1qbp protein, mouse
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Doxorubicin
  • Staurosporine