MLH1 deficiency leads to deregulated mitochondrial metabolism.
Cell Death Dis
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The DNA mismatch repair (MMR) pathway is responsible for the repair of base-base mismatches and insertion/deletion loops that arise during DNA replication. MMR deficiency is currently estimated to be present in 15-17% of colorectal cancer cases and 30% of endometrial cancers. MLH1 is one of the key proteins involved in the MMR pathway. Inhibition of a number of mitochondrial genes, including POLG and PINK1 can induce synthetic lethality in MLH1-deficient cells. Here we demonstrate for the first time that loss of MLH1 is associated with a deregulated mitochondrial metabolism, with reduced basal oxygen consumption rate and reduced spare respiratory capacity. Furthermore, MLH1-deficient cells display a significant reduction in activity of the respiratory chain Complex I. As a functional consequence of this perturbed mitochondrial metabolism, MLH1-deficient cells have a reduced anti-oxidant response and show increased sensitivity to reactive oxidative species (ROS)-inducing drugs. Taken together, our results provide evidence for an intrinsic mitochondrial dysfunction in MLH1-deficient cells and a requirement for MLH1 in the regulation of mitochondrial function.