Prohibitin 1 interacts with p53 in the regulation of mitochondrial dynamics and chemoresistance in gynecologic cancers

J Ovarian Res. 2022 Jun 7;15(1):70. doi: 10.1186/s13048-022-00999-x.


Background: Mitochondrial dynamics (e.g. fission/fusion) play an important role in controlling chemoresistance in representative gynecologic malignancies, ovarian and cervical cancer. Processing the long form of Optic atrophy (L-Opa)1 is a distinctive character of mitochondrial fragmentation, associated with chemosensitivity. Here, we examined the role of prohibitin (Phb)1 in increasing L-Opa1 processing via the regulating mitochondrial protease, Oma1 and its direct interaction with p-p53 (ser15) and pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 antagonist/killer (Bak) 1 in the signaling axis and if this phenomenon is associated with prognosis of patients.

Methods: We compared Cisplatin (CDDP)-induced response of mitochondrial dynamics, molecular interaction among p-p53 (ser15)-Phb1-Bak, and chemoresponsiveness in paired chemosensitive and chemoresistant gynecologic cancer cells (ovarian and cervical cancer cell lines) using western blot, immunoprecipitation, sea horse, and immunofluorescence. Translational strategy with proximity ligation assessment in phb1-p-p53 (ser15) in human ovarian tumor sections further confirmed in vitro finding, associated with clinical outcome.

Results: We report that: (1) Knock-down of Phb1 prevents Cisplatin (cis-diamine-dichloroplatinum; CDDP) -induced changes in mitochondrial fragmentation and Oma1 mediated cleavage, and Opa1 processing; (2) In response to CDDP, Phb1 facilitates the p-p53 (ser15)-Phb1-Bak interaction in mitochondria in chemosensitive gynecologic cancer cells but not in chemoresistant cells; (3) Akt overexpression results in suppressed p-p53(Ser15)-Phb1 interaction and dysregulated mitochondrial dynamics, and (4) Consistent with in vitro findings, proximity ligation assessment (PLA) in human ovarian tumor sections demonstrated that p-p53(ser15)-Phb1-Bak interaction in mitochondria is associated with better chemoresponsiveness and clinical outcome of patients. Determining the molecular mechanisms by which Phb1 facilitates mitochondrial fragmentation and interacts with p53 may advance the current understanding of chemoresistance and pathogenesis of gynecologic cancer.

Conclusion: Determining the key molecular mechanisms by which Phb1 facilitates the formation of p-p53 (ser15)-Bak-Phb1 and its involvement in the regulation of mitochondrial dynamics and apoptosis may ultimately contribute to the current understanding of molecular and cellular basis of chemoresistance in this gynecologic cancer.

Keywords: Bak; CDDP; Chemoresistance; Mitochondrial fragmentation; Phb1; p53.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology
  • Cisplatin / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Prohibitins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Prohibitins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Cisplatin