NUPR1 inhibitor ZZW-115 induces ferroptosis in a mitochondria-dependent manner

Can Huang, Patricia Santofimia-Castaño, Xi Liu, Yi Xia, Ling Peng, Célia Gotorbe, Jose Luis Neira, Daolin Tang, Jacques Pouyssegur, Juan Iovanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Ferroptosis is an iron-dependent cell death characterized by the accumulation of hydroperoxided phospholipids. Here, we report that the NUPR1 inhibitor ZZW-115 induces ROS accumulation followed by a ferroptotic cell death, which could be prevented by ferrostatin-1 (Fer-1) and ROS-scavenging agents. The ferroptotic activity can be improved by inhibiting antioxidant factors in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC)- and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)-derived cells. In addition, ZZW-115-treatment increases the accumulation of hydroperoxided lipids in these cells. We also found that a loss of activity and strong deregulation of key enzymes involved in the GSH- and GPX-dependent antioxidant systems upon ZZW-115 treatment. These results have been validated in xenografts induced with PDAC- and HCC-derived cells in nude mice during the treatment with ZZW-115. More importantly, we demonstrate that ZZW-115-induced mitochondrial morphological changes, compatible with the ferroptotic process, as well as mitochondrial network disorganization and strong mitochondrial metabolic dysfunction, which are rescued by both Fer-1 and N-acetylcysteine (NAC). Of note, the expression of TFAM, a key regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis, is downregulated by ZZW-115. Forced expression of TFAM is able to rescue morphological and functional mitochondrial alterations, ROS production, and cell death induced by ZZW-115 or genetic inhibition of NUPR1. Altogether, these results demonstrate that the mitochondrial cell death mediated by NUPR1 inhibitor ZZW-115 is fully rescued by Fer-1 but also via TFAM complementation. In conclusion, TFAM could be considered as an antagonist of the ferroptotic cell death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number269
JournalCell Death Discovery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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