Now the researchers have now discovered a new function of mitochondria, Mitochondria are channels in coal mines for cellular stress, small structures found in most cells, known for their energy-producing machines.
Most of the DNA that the cell needs to function located in the cell nucleus, encapsulated in a chromosome and inherited by both parents.
But mitochondria contain their own little DNA loop (called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA), which is only passed down from mother to child. And most cells contain hundreds or even thousands of mitochondria.
They adopt a subset of genes known as interferon-stimulated genes or ISGs, which are usually activated by the presence of viruses. But, in this case, the team found that the gene is a specific subset of the ISG involved in the virus.
The same subset of ISG is often activated in cancer cells that have developed resistance to chemotherapy with DNA-destroying agents such as doxorubicin.
To destroy cancer, doxorubicin targets core DNA. But, a new study has found that the drug also causes damage and release of mtDNA, which in turn activates ISG.
This subset of ISG, an open group, helps protect core DNA from damage, causing an increase in drug resistance to chemotherapy.
Most of the time, he stresses, it is possible that mtDNA is more susceptible to damage and acts like a rock in coal mines to protect healthy cells.
But, in cancer cells, this means that doxorubicin, by first destroying mtDNA and triggering a molecular alarm bell, may be less effective in damaging the cancer cell nucleus DNA.
The research team plans future studies to examine precisely how mtDNA damaged and released and which DNA repair pathways activated by ISG in the cell nucleus to prevent damage.