From the Cover: Arsenite Uncouples Mitochondrial Respiration and Induces a Warburg-like Effect in Caenorhabditis elegans.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Millions of people worldwide are chronically exposed to arsenic through contaminated drinking water. Despite decades of research studying the carcinogenic potential of arsenic, the mechanisms by which arsenic causes cancer and other diseases remain poorly understood. Mitochondria appear to be an important target of arsenic toxicity. The trivalent arsenical, arsenite, can induce mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production, inhibit enzymes involved in energy metabolism, and induce aerobic glycolysis in vitro, suggesting that metabolic dysfunction may be important in arsenic-induced disease. Here, using the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans and a novel metabolic inhibition assay, we report an in vivo induction of aerobic glycolysis following arsenite exposure. Furthermore, arsenite exposure induced severe mitochondrial dysfunction, including altered pyruvate metabolism; reduced steady-state ATP levels, ATP-linked respiration and spare respiratory capacity; and increased proton leak. We also found evidence that induction of autophagy is an important protective response to arsenite exposure. Because these results demonstrate that mitochondria are an important in vivo target of arsenite toxicity, we hypothesized that deficiencies in mitochondrial electron transport chain genes, which cause mitochondrial disease in humans, would sensitize nematodes to arsenite. In agreement with this, nematodes deficient in electron transport chain complexes I, II, and III, but not ATP synthase, were sensitive to arsenite exposure, thus identifying a novel class of gene-environment interactions that warrant further investigation in the human populace.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Luz, AL; Godebo, TR; Bhatt, DP; Ilkayeva, OR; Maurer, LL; Hirschey, MD; Meyer, JN

Published Date

  • August 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 152 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 349 - 362

PubMed ID

  • 27208080

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4960910

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-0929

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/toxsci/kfw093


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States