Dexamethasone upregulates mitochondrial Tom20, Tom70, and MnSOD through SGK1 in the kidney cells

Sharanpreet Hira, Balamurugan Packialakshmi, Esther Tang, Xiaoming Zhou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Dexamethasone augments mitochondrial protein abundance. The translocase of the outer membrane (Tom) of mitochondria plays a major role in importing largely cytosolically synthesized proteins into mitochondria. We hypothesize that dexamethasone upregulates the Tom transport system, leading to increase of mitochondrial protein localization. Tom20 and Tom70 are the two major subunits. Dexamethasone increased Tom20 and Tom70 mRNA levels by 53 ± 11% and 25 ± 9% and mitochondrial protein abundance by 27 ± 7% and 25 ± 4% (p < 0.05 for all), respectively, in HEK293 cells. In parallel, dexamethasone elevated the SGK1 mRNA by 79 ± 17% and activity by 190 ± 42%, and mitochondrial protein level by 41 ± 2% (all p < 0.05) without significantly affecting the cytosol counterpart. The discovery of the effect of dexamethasone on SGK1 protein restricted in the mitochondria attracted us to examine the effect of the hormone on MnSOD, an enzyme with known mitochondrial localization and function. Similarly, dexamethasone significantly increased MnSOD transcripts by 67 ± 15% and protein level only in the mitochondria dose-dependently. Inhibition of SGK1 by GSK650394 and RNAi significantly attenuated the effects of the hormone on Tom20, Tom70, and MnSOD, indicating that SGK1 relays the effects of dexamethasone. Catalase inhibited the effects of dexamethasone on SGK1 and the subsequent effects of SGK1 on Tom20, Tom70, and MnSOD. Finally, knock-down of Tom20 and Tom70 by their siRNAs reduced dexamethasone-induced increases in the mitochondrial localization of SGK1 and MnSOD proteins. In conclusion, dexamethasone upregulates Tom20, Tom70, and MnSOD, and these effects are dependent on reactive oxygen species and SGK1. Dexamethasone-induced increases of SGK1 and MnSOD mitochondrial localization requires Tom20 and Tom70.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Physiology and Biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Na transport
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Translocase


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