Mitochondria are traditionally been viewed as the cell’s powerhouse, generating most of its ATP. However, besides this fundamental metabolic role, mitochondria are implicated in diverse other processes, including apoptosis, inflammation and metastasis. These functions are exerted in part by the growing class of long noncoding mitochondrial RNAs (lncmtRNAs). We found that normal human proliferating cells express a family of noncoding mitochondrial RNAs (ncmtRNAs), comprised of sense (SncmtRNA) and antisense (ASncmtRNA). However, tumor cells express only sense transcripts, suggesting that ASncmtRNA downregulation as a cancer new hallmark. The few ASncmtRNAs copies in tumor cells seem essential to tumor cell viability: knockdown of these transcripts with antisense oligonucleotides (ASO) causes massive apoptotic death of tumor cells, preceded by cell cycle arrest. Preclinical assays show that systemic administration of ASO delayed tumor growth in melanoma and renal cancer models and, caused total remission in subcutaneous renal cancer tumors. The same treatment, however, does not affect normal tissue, suggesting this approach for the development of an efficient and safe therapeutic strategy for several cancer types.
Part of the book: Mitochondrial DNA