METTL17 coordinates ferroptosis and tumorigenesis by regulating mitochondrial translation in colorectal cancer

Redox Biol. 2024 May:71:103087. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2024.103087. Epub 2024 Feb 13.


Ferroptosis, an iron-dependent lipid peroxidation-induced form of regulated cell death, shows great promise as a cancer therapy strategy. Despite the critical role of mitochondria in ferroptosis regulation, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. This study reveals that the mitochondrial protein METTL17 governs mitochondrial function in colorectal cancer (CRC) cells through epigenetic modulation. Bioinformatic analysis establishes that METTL17 expression positively correlates with ferroptosis resistance in cancer cells and is up-regulated in CRC. Depletion of METTL17 sensitizes CRC cells to ferroptosis, impairs cell proliferation, migration, invasion, xenograft tumor growth, and AOM/DSS-induced CRC tumorigenesis. Furthermore, suppression of METTL17 disrupts mitochondrial function, energy metabolism, and enhances intracellular and mitochondrial lipid peroxidation and ROS levels during ferroptotic stress. Mechanistically, METTL17 inhibition significantly reduces mitochondrial RNA methylation, including m4C, m5C, m3C, m7G, and m6A, leading to impaired translation of mitochondrial protein-coding genes. Additionally, the interacting proteins associated with METTL17 are essential for mitochondrial gene expression, and their knockdown sensitizes CRC cells to ferroptosis and inhibits cell proliferation. Notably, combined targeting of METTL17 and ferroptosis in a therapeutic approach effectively suppresses CRC xenograft growth in vivo. This study uncovers the METTL17-mediated defense mechanism for cell survival and ferroptosis in mitochondria, highlighting METTL17 as a potential therapeutic target for CRC.

Keywords: Colorectal cancer (CRC); Ferroptosis; METTL17; Mitochondrial RNA methylation.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Ferroptosis* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics


  • Methyltransferases
  • METTL17 protein, human
  • Mitochondrial Proteins