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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Mitochondrial defects in cancer

Jennifer S Carew12 and Peng Huang12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Pathology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77030, USA

2 The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77030, USA

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Molecular Cancer 2002, 1:9  doi:10.1186/1476-4598-1-9

Published: 9 December 2002


Mitochondria play important roles in cellular energy metabolism, free radical generation, and apoptosis. Defects in mitochondrial function have long been suspected to contribute to the development and progression of cancer. In this review article, we aim to provide a brief summary of our current understanding of mitochondrial genetics and biology, review the mtDNA alterations reported in various types of cancer, and offer some perspective as to the emergence of mtDNA mutations, their functional consequences in cancer development, and therapeutic implications.

mitochondria; cancer; mutation; respiration; free radical