, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 339–354 | Cite as

Zinc pyrithione induces cellular stress signaling and apoptosis in Hep-2 cervical tumor cells: the role of mitochondria and lysosomes



Increased intracellular free zinc concentrations are associated with activation of several stress signaling pathways, specific organelle injury and final cell death. In the present work we examined the involvement of mitochondria and lysosomes and their crosstalk in free zinc-induced cell demise. We report that treatment of cervical tumor Hep-2 cells with zinc pyrithione leads to an early appearance of cytoplasmic zinc-specific foci with corresponding accumulation of zinc first in mitochondria and later in lysosomes. Concomitant with these changes, upregulation of expression of metallothionein II A gene as well as the increased abundance of its protein occurs. Moreover, zinc activates p53 and its dependent genes including Puma and Bax and they contribute to an observed loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and activation of apoptosis. Conversely, lysosomal membrane permeabilization and its promoted cleavage of Bid occurs in a delayed manner in treated cells and their effect on decrease of mitochondrial membrane potential is limited. The use of specific inhibitors as well as siRNA technology suggest a crucial role of MT-IIA in trafficking of free zinc into mitochondria or lysosomes and regulation of apoptotic or necrotic cell demise.


Zinc Mitochondria Lysosomes Metallothionein Apoptosis Necrosis 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Biology and Genetics, Faculty of Medicine in Hradec KrálovéCharles University in PragueHradec Kralove ICzech Republic

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