Ferroptosis inhibition by lysosome-dependent catabolism of extracellular protein

David A. Armenta, Nouf N. Laqtom, Grace Alchemy, Wentao Dong, Danielle Morrow, Carson D. Poltorack, David A. Nathanson, Monther Abu-Remalieh, Scott J. Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Cancer cells need a steady supply of nutrients to evade cell death and proliferate. Depriving cancer cells of the amino acid cystine can trigger the non-apoptotic cell death process of ferroptosis. Here, we report that cancer cells can evade cystine deprivation-induced ferroptosis by uptake and catabolism of the cysteine-rich extracellular protein albumin. This protective mechanism is enhanced by mTORC1 inhibition and involves albumin degradation in the lysosome, predominantly by cathepsin B (CTSB). CTSB-dependent albumin breakdown followed by export of cystine from the lysosome via the transporter cystinosin fuels the synthesis of glutathione, which suppresses lethal lipid peroxidation. When cancer cells are grown under non-adherent conditions as spheroids, mTORC1 pathway activity is reduced, and albumin supplementation alone affords considerable protection against ferroptosis. These results identify the catabolism of extracellular protein within the lysosome as a mechanism that can inhibit ferroptosis in cancer cells.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1588-1600.e7
JournalCell Chemical Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 17 2022
Externally publishedYes


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