Stephen Tait - Mitochondria and Cell Death


Tait Stephen 055

Cell death is a key tumour suppressor mechanism that must be inhibited in order for cancer to develop. Sensitivity to cell death also governs therapeutic efficacy because anti-cancer therapies often act by killing cells. The major form of programmed cell death is apoptosis, a process in which mitochondria play an essential role. Our research focuses upon understanding how mitochondria control cell death and addressing how this is deregulated in cancer. Clinical translation of our findings should lead to improvements of existing therapies and development of new approaches to enable tumour selective killing.

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University of Glasgow webpage

Other funding:

                         Breast Cancer Now logo           BBSRC logo  

                  CRUK Glasgow Centre            Prostate Cancer UK logo

Lab Report



Education and qualifications

2001: PhD, University of Sussex, Institute for Animal Health, Pirbright Lab
1996: BSc, Medical Microbiology, University of Edinburgh


2012-present: Group Leader, CRUK Beatson Institute / University of Glasgow
2005-2011: Postdoctoral Fellow with Doug Green, St Jude Children's Hospital, Memphis, USA
2003-2005: Postdoctoral Fellow with Jannie Borst, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam
2001-2003: Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam

Recent Publications


Lopez J, Tait SWG. Application of Mito-Priming to Generate BCL-2 Addicted Cells. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, NJ) 2019;1877:45-60. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-8861-7_3


Riley JS, Quarato G, Cloix C, Lopez J, O'Prey J, Pearson M, Chapman J, Sesaki H, Carlin LM, Passos JF, Wheeler AP, Oberst A, Ryan KM, Tait SW. Mitochondrial inner membrane permeabilisation enables mtDNA release during apoptosis. EMBO J. 2018 Jul 26. pii: e99238. doi: 10.15252/embj.201899238

Bock FJ, Tait SWG. p53 REEPs to sow ER-mitochondrial contacts. Cell Res 2018. doi: 10.1038/s41422-018-0073-z

Campbell KJ, Tait SWG. Targeting BCL-2 regulated apoptosis in cancer. Open Biol. 2018; 8. pii: 180002. doi: 10.1098/rsob.180002


Correia-Melo C, Ichim G, Tait SW, Passos JF. Depletion of mitochondria in mammalian cells through enforced mitophagy. Nat Protoc 2017; 12: 183-94

Daniels BP, Snyder AG, Olsen TM, Orozco S, Oguin TH, 3rd, Tait SW, Martinez J, Gale M, Jr., Loo YM, Oberst A. RIPK3 Restricts Viral Pathogenesis via Cell Death-Independent Neuroinflammation. Cell 2017; 169: 301-13.e11

Giampazolias E, Zunino B, Dhayade S, Bock F, Cloix C, Cao K, Roca A, Lopez J, Ichim G, Proics E, Rubio-Patino C, Fort L, Yatim N, Woodham E, Orozco S, Taraborrelli L, Peltzer N, Lecis D, Machesky L, Walczak H et al. Mitochondrial permeabilization engages NF-kappaB-dependent anti-tumour activity under caspase deficiency. Nat Cell Biol 2017; 19: 1116-29

Gutierrez KD, Davis MA, Daniels BP, Olsen TM, Ralli-Jain P, Tait SW, Gale M, Jr., Oberst A. MLKL Activation Triggers NLRP3-Mediated Processing and Release of IL-1beta Independently of Gasdermin-D. J Immunol 2017; 195: 2156-64

Villa E, Proics E, Rubio-Patino C, Obba S, Zunino B, Bossowski JP, Rozier RM, Chiche J, Mondragon L, Riley JS, Marchetti S, Verhoeyen E, Tait SWG, Ricci JE. Parkin-Independent Mitophagy Controls Chemotherapeutic Response in Cancer Cells. Cell Rep 2017; 20: 2846-59

Weigert M, Binks A, Dowson S, Leung EYL, Athineos D, Yu X, Mullin M, Walton JB, Orange C, Ennis D, Blyth K, Tait SWG, McNeish IA. RIPK3 promotes adenovirus type 5 activity. Cell Death and Disease 2017; 8: 3206

Woodham EF, Paul NR, Tyrrell B, Spence HJ, Swaminathan K, Scribner MR, Giampazolias E, Hedley A, Clark W, Kage F, Marston DJ, Hahn KM, Tait SW, Larue L, Brakebusch CH, Insall RH, Machesky LM. Coordination by Cdc42 of Actin, Contractility, and Adhesion for Melanoblast Movement in Mouse Skin. Curr Biol 2017; 27: 624-37

Giampazolias E, Tait SWG. Caspase-independent cell death: an anti-cancer double-whammy. Cell Cycle 2017 Nov 23:1-5. doi: 10.1080/15384101.2017.1408229. [Epub ahead of print]

Ichim G, Tait SWG. Cancer therapy-induced PAFR ligand expression: any role for caspase activity? Nat Rev Cancer 2017; 17: 253

Simon HU, Friis R, Tait SW, Ryan KM. Retrograde signaling from autophagy modulates stress responses. Sci Signal 2017; 10: pii: eaag2791.


Correia-Melo C, Ichim G, Tait SW, Passos JF. Depletion of mitochondria in mammalian cells through enforced mitophagy. Nat Protoc 2017; 12: 183-94. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2016.159. Epub 22 Dec 2016Correia-Melo C, Marques FD, Anderson R, Hewitt G, Hewitt R, Cole J, Carroll BM, Miwa S, Birch J, Merz A, Rushton MD, Charles M, Jurk D, Tait SW, Czapiewski R, Greaves L, Nelson G, Bohlooly-Y M, Rodriguez-Cuenca S, Vidal-Puig A, Mann D, Saretzki G, Quarato G, Green DR, Adams PD, von Zglinicki T, Korolchuk VI, Passos JF. Mitochondria are required for pro-ageing features of the senescent phenotype. EMBO J. 2016 Apr 1;35(7):724-42

Lopez J, Bessou M, Riley JS, Giampazolias E, Todt F, Rochegue T, Oberst A, Green DR, Edlich F, Ichim G, Tait SWG. Mito-priming as a method to engineer Bcl-2 addiction. Nat Commun 2016; 7: 10538

Pecot J, Maillet L, Le Pen J, Vuillier C, Trecesson SC, Fetiveau A, Sarosiek KA, Bock FJ, Braun F, Letai A, Tait SW, Gautier F, Juin PP. Tight Sequestration of BH3 Proteins by BCL-xL at Subcellular Membranes Contributes to Apoptotic Resistance. Cell Rep 17: 3347-3358, 2016

Giampazolias E, Tait SWG. Mitochondria and the hallmarks of cancer. FEBS J 283: 803-14, 2016

Ichim G, Tait SWG. A fate worse than death: apoptosis as an oncogenic process. Nat Rev Cancer 16: 539-48, 2016

Klionsky DJ, Abdelmohsen K, Abe A, Abedin MJ, Abeliovich H, Acevedo Arozena A, Adachi H, Adams CM, Adams PD, Adeli K, Adhihetty PJ, Adler SG, Agam G, Agarwal R, Aghi MK, Agnello M, Agostinis P, Aguilar PV, Aguirre-Ghiso J, Airoldi EM et al. Guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy (3rd edition). Autophagy 12: 1-222, 2016

Oberst A, Ichim G, Tait SWG. Mitochondrial Permeabilization: From Lethality to Vitality. In: Cell Death in Biology and Diseases pp 213-26, 2016 (Ed Hockenbery DM)

Riley JS, Tait SWG. Mechanisms of mitophagy: putting the powerhouse into the doghouse. Biol Chem 397: 617-35, 2016


Baudot AD, Haller M, Mrschtik M, Tait SW, Ryan KM. Using enhanced-mitophagy to measure autophagic flux. Methods 75: 105-11, 2015

Dikovskaya D, Cole JJ, Mason SM, Nixon C, Karim SA, McGarry L, Clark W, Hewitt RN, Sammons MA, Zhu J, Athineos D, Leach JD, Marchesi F, van Tuyn J, Tait SW, Brock C, Morton JP, Wu H, Berger SL, Blyth K, Adams PD. Mitotic Stress Is an Integral Part of the Oncogene-Induced Senescence Program that Promotes Multinucleation and Cell Cycle Arrest. Cell Rep 2015; 12: 1483-96

Galluzzi L, Bravo-San Pedro JM, Vitale I, Aaronson SA, Abrams JM, Adam D, Alnemri ES, Altucci L, Andrews D, Annicchiarico-Petruzzelli M, Baehrecke EH, Bazan NG, Bertrand MJ, Bianchi K, Blagosklonny MV, Blomgren K, Borner C, Bredesen DE, Brenner C, Campanella M, Candi E, Cecconi F, Chan FK, Chandel NS, Cheng EH, Chipuk JE, Cidlowski JA, Ciechanover A, Dawson TM, Dawson VL, De Laurenzi V, De Maria R, Debatin KM, Di Daniele N, Dixit VM, Dynlacht BD, El-Deiry WS, Fimia GM, Flavell RA, Fulda S, Garrido C, Gougeon ML, Green DR, Gronemeyer H, Hajnoczky G, Hardwick JM, Hengartner MO, Ichijo H, Joseph B, Jost PJ, Kaufmann T, Kepp O, Klionsky DJ, Knight RA, Kumar S, Lemasters JJ, Levine B, Linkermann A, Lipton SA, Lockshin RA, Lopez-Otin C, Lugli E, Madeo F, Malorni W, Marine JC, Martin SJ, Martinou JC, Medema JP, Meier P, Melino S, Mizushima N, Moll U, Munoz-Pinedo C, Nunez G, Oberst A, Panaretakis T, Penninger JM, Peter ME, Piacentini M, Pinton P, Prehn JH, Puthalakath H, Rabinovich GA, Ravichandran KS, Rizzuto R, Rodrigues CM, Rubinsztein DC, Rudel T, Shi Y, Simon HU, Stockwell BR, Szabadkai G, Tait SW, Tang HL, Tavernarakis N, Tsujimoto Y, Vanden Berghe T, Vandenabeele P, Villunger A, Wagner EF, Walczak H, White E, Wood WG, Yuan J, Zakeri Z, Zhivotovsky B, Melino G, Kroemer G. Essential versus accessory aspects of cell death: recommendations of the NCCD 2015. Cell Death Differ 22: 58-73, 2015

Ichim G, Lopez J, Ahmed SU, Muthalagu N, Giampazolias E, Delgado ME, Haller M, Riley JS, Mason SM, Athineos D, Parsons MJ, van de Kooij B, Bouchier-Hayes L, Chalmers AJ, Rooswinkel RW, Oberst A, Blyth K, Rehm M, Murphy DJ, Tait SW. Limited mitochondrial permeabilization causes DNA damage and genomic instability in the absence of cell death. Mol Cell 57: 860-72, 2015

Lopez J, Tait SW. Mitochondrial apoptosis: killing cancer using the enemy within. Br J Cancer 112: 957-62, 2015

Todt F, Cakir Z, Reichenbach F, Emschermann F, Lauterwasser J, Kaiser A, Ichim G, Tait SWG, Frank S, Langer HF, Edlich F. Differential retrotranslocation of mitochondrial Bax and Bak. EMBO J 34: 67-80, 2015


Haller M, Hock AK, Giampazolias E, Oberst A, Green DR, Debnath J, Ryan KM, Vousden KH, Tait SWG. Ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of ATG12 regulates its pro-apoptotic activity, Autophagy 10: 2269-78, 2014

Ichim G, Tait SW. Necroptosis: fifty shades of RIPKs. Mol Cell Oncol 2015; 2. doi: 10.4161/23723548.2014.965638. Epub 2014 Nov 7

Lopez J, Tait SW. Killing the Killer: PARC/CUL9 promotes cell survival by destroying cytochrome C. Sci Signal 7: pe17, 2014

Orozco S, Yatim N, Werner MR, Tran H, Gunja SY, Tait SW, Albert ML, Green DR, Oberst A. RIPK1 both positively and negatively regulates RIPK3 oligomerization and necroptosis. Cell Death Differ 21: 1511-21, 2014

Tait SW, Ichim G, Green DR. Die another way--non-apoptotic mechanisms of cell death. J Cell Sci 127: 2135-44, 2014

Lab Members

Tait lab 052 cropped


Florian Bock
Kirsteen Campbell (Breast Cancer Now)
Kai Cao
Joel Riley (BBSRC)

Senior Scientific Officer

Catherine Cloix

Clinical Research Fellow

Anna Koessinger (CRUK Glasgow Centre)

PhD Students

Alba Roca
Esmée Vringer (CRUK Glasgow Centre)


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