CDK regulatory subunit 2 (CKS2) has a nuclear function that promotes cell division and is a candidate biomarker of chemoradioresistance in cervical cancer. The underlying mechanisms are, however, not completely understood. We investigated whether CKS2 also has a mitochondrial function that augments tumor aggressiveness. Based on global gene expression data of two cervical cancer cohorts of 150 and 135 patients, we identified a set of genes correlated with CKS2 expression. Gene set enrichment analysis showed enrichment of mitochondrial cellular compartments, and the hallmarks oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and targets of the MYC oncogene in the gene set. By in situ proximity ligation assay, we showed that CKS2 formed complex with the positively correlated MYC target, mitochondrial single-stranded DNA binding protein SSBP1, in the mitochondrion of cervix tumor samples and HeLa and SiHa cervical cancer cell lines, indicating a role in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) replication and thereby OXPHOS. CDK1 was found to be part of the complex. Flow cytometry analyses of HeLa cells showed cell cycle regulation of the CKS2-SSBP1 complex consistent with mtDNA replication activity. Moreover, repression of mtDNA replication and OXPHOS by acute hypoxia decreased CKS2-SSBP1 complex abundance and expression of MYC targets. By immunohistochemistry, cytoplasmic CKS2 expression was found to add to the prognostic impact of nuclear CKS2 expression in patients, suggesting that the mitochondrial function promotes tumor aggressiveness. Our study uncovers a novel link between regulation of cell division by nuclear pathways and OXPHOS in the mitochondrion that involves CKS2 and promotes chemoradioresistance of cervical cancer.
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