Ablation of the mitochondrial complex IV assembly protein Surf1 leads to increased expression of the UPRMT and increased resistance to oxidative stress in primary cultures of fibroblasts

Gavin Pharaoh, Daniel Pulliam, Shauna Hill, Kavithalakshmi Sataranatarajan, Holly Van Remmen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Mice deficient in the electron transport chain (ETC) complex IV assembly protein SURF1 have reduced assembly and activity of cytochrome c oxidase that is associated with an upregulation of components of the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRMT) and increased mitochondrial number. We hypothesized that the upregulation of proteins associated with the UPRMT in response to reduced cytochrome c oxidase activity in Surf1-/- mice might contribute to increased stress resistance. To test this hypothesis we asked whether primary cultures of fibroblasts from Surf1-/- mice exhibit enhanced resistance to stressors compared to wild-type fibroblasts. Here we show that primary dermal fibroblasts isolated from Surf1-/- mice have increased expression of UPRMT components ClpP and Hsp60, and increased expression of Lon protease. Fibroblasts from Surf1-/- mice are significantly more resistant to cell death caused by oxidative stress induced by paraquat or tert-Butyl hydroperoxide compared to cells from wild-type mice. In contrast, Surf1-/- fibroblasts show no difference in sensitivity to hydrogen peroxide stress. The enhanced cell survival in response to paraquat or tert-Butyl hydroperoxide in Surf1-/- fibroblasts compared to wild-type fibroblasts is associated with induced expression of Lon, ClpP, and Hsp60, increased maximal respiration, and increased reserve capacity as measured using the Seahorse Extracellular Flux Analyzer. Overall these data support a protective role for the activation of the UPRMT in cell survival.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-438
Number of pages9
JournalRedox Biology
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • Hydrogen peroxide (HO)
  • Mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPR)
  • Paraquat (PQ)
  • Primary mouse fibroblasts
  • Stress resistance
  • Tert-butyl hydroperoxide (t-BuOOH)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry

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