Prof 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.

University of Glasgow- Colour

University of Glasgow webpage

Other funding:


                  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


Cao K, Riley JS, Heilig R, Montes-Gómez AE, Vringer E, Berthenet K, Cloix C, Elmasry Y, Spiller DG, Ichim G, Campbell KJ, Gilmore AP, Tait SWG. Mitochondrial dynamics regulate genome stability via control of caspase-dependent DNA damage. Developmental Cell. 2022;

Fanfone D, Wu Z, Mammi J, Berthenet K, Neves D, Weber K, Halaburkova A, Virard F, Bunel F, Jamard C, Hernandez-Vargas H, Tait SWG, Hennino A, Ichim G. Confined migration promotes cancer metastasis through resistance to anoikis and increased invasiveness. Elife. 2022;11.

Koessinger AL, Cloix C, Koessinger D, Heiland DH, Bock FJ, Strathdee K, Kinch K, Martínez-Escardó L, Paul NR, Nixon C, Malviya G, Jackson MR, Campbell KJ, Stevenson K, Davis S, Elmasry Y, Ahmed A, O’Prey J, Ichim G, Schnell O, Stewart W, Blyth K, Ryan KM, Chalmers AJ, Norman JC, Tait SWG. Increased apoptotic sensitivity of glioblastoma enables therapeutic targeting by BH3-mimetics. Cell Death & Differentiation. 2022;10.1038/s41418-022-01001-3.

Tait SWG. Killing cells using light (activated) sabers. Journal of Cell Biology. 2022;221.


Bock FJ, Sedov E, Koren E, Koessinger AL, Cloix C, Zerbst D, Athineos D, Anand J, Campbell KJ, Blyth K, Fuchs Y, Tait SWG. Apoptotic stress-induced FGF signalling promotes non-cell autonomous resistance to cell death. Nat Commun. 2021 Nov 12;12(1):6572. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-26613-0.

Campbell KJ, Mason SM, Winder ML, Willemsen RBE, Cloix C, Lawson H, Rooney N, Dhayade S, Sims AH, Blyth K, Tait SWG. Breast cancer dependence on MCL-1 is due to its canonical anti-apoptotic function. Cell Death Differ. 2021; 28:2589–2600

Johnson SA, Ormsby MJ, Wessel HM, Hulme HE, Bravo-Blas A, McIntosh A, Mason S, Coffelt SB, Tait SWG, Mowat AM, Milling SWF, Blyth K, Wall DM. Monocytes mediate Salmonella Typhimurium-induced tumour growth inhibition in a mouse melanoma model. Eur J Immunol. 2021.

Latif AL, Newcombe A, Li S, Gilroy K, Robertson NA, Lei X, Stewart HJS, Cole J, Terradas MT, Rishi L, McGarry L, McKeeve C, Reid C, Clark W, Campos J, Kirschner K, Davis A, Lopez J, Sakamaki JI, Morton JP, et al. BRD4-mediated repression of p53 is a target for combination therapy in AML. Nat Commun. 2021;12:241.

Rabas N, Palmer S, Mitchell L, Ismail S, Gohlke A, Riley JS, Tait SWG, Gammage P, Soares LL, Macpherson IR, Norman JC. PINK1 drives production of mtDNA-containing extracellular vesicles to promote invasiveness. J Cell Biol. 2021;220.

Roca-Portoles A, Tait SWG. Mitochondrial quality control: from molecule to organelle. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2021; 78:3853–3866


Ahmed A, Tait SWG. Targeting Immunogenic Cell Death in Cancer. Mol Oncol. 2020: ed2020.

Koessinger AL, Koessinger D, Stevenson K, Cloix C, Mitchell L, Nixon C, Gomez-Roman N, Chalmers AJ, Norman JC, Tait SWG. Quantitative in vivo bioluminescence imaging of orthotopic patient-derived glioblastoma xenografts. Scientific Reports. 2020;10(1):15361.

Roca-Portoles A, Rodriguez-Blanco G, Sumpton D, Cloix C, Mullin M, Mackay GM, O’Neill K, Lemgruber L, Luo X, Tait SWG. Venetoclax causes metabolic reprogramming independent of BCL-2 inhibition. Cell Death & Disease. 2020;11(8):616.

Stöhr D, Schmid JO, Beigl TB, Mack A, Maichl DS, Cao K, Budai B, Fullstone G, Kontermann RE, Mürdter TE, Tait SWG, Hagenlocher C, Pollak N, Scheurich P, Rehm M. Stress-induced TRAILR2 expression overcomes TRAIL resistance in cancer cell spheroids. Cell Death Diff. 2020; 27;3037–3052

Bock FJ, Tait SWG. Mitochondria as multifaceted regulators of cell death. Nature reviews Molecular cell biology. 2020: 21: 85–100

Riley JS, Tait SW. Mitochondrial DNA in inflammation and immunity. EMBO Rep. 2020; 21: e49799

Roca Portoles A, Tait SWG. ER Stress Leaves an Inflammatory TRAIL.  Dev Cell. 2020; 52: 678-680


Beaumatin F, O'Prey J, Barthet VJA, Zunino B, Parvy JP, Bachmann AM, O'Prey M, Kania E, Gonzalez PS, Macintosh R, Lao LY, Nixon C, Lopez J, Long JS, Tait SWG, Ryan KM. mTORC1 Activation Requires DRAM-1 by Facilitating Lysosomal Amino Acid Efflux. Molecular cell. 2019; 76: 163–17

Cao K, Tait SWG. Parkin inhibits necroptosis to prevent cancer. Nature cell biology. 2019;21:915-916.

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

Orozco SL, Daniels BP, Yatim N, Messmer MN, Quarato G, Chen-Harris H, Cullen SP, Snyder AG, Ralli-Jain P, Frase S, Tait SWG, Green DR, Albert ML, Oberst A. RIPK3 Activation Leads to Cytokine Synthesis that Continues after Loss of Cell Membrane Integrity. Cell reports. 2019; 28: 2275-2287

Riley JS, Tait SW. Mitochondria and pathogen immunity: from killer to firestarter. The EMBO journal. 2019;38: e102325

Vringer E, Tait SWG. Mitochondria and Inflammation: Cell Death Heats Up. Frontiers in cell and developmental biology. 2019;7:100.


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; 37: e99238

Bock FJ, Tait SWG. p53 REEPs to sow ER-mitochondrial contacts. Cell Res. 2018; 28: 877–878

Campbell KJ, Tait SWG. Targeting BCL-2 regulated apoptosis in cancer. Open Biol. 2018; 8:

Giampazolias E, Tait SWG. Caspase-independent cell death: An anti-cancer double whammy. Cell cycle. 2018; 17: 269-270.


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; 17: 269-270

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: 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; 35: 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. 2016; 17: 3347-3358

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

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

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. 2016; 12: 1-222

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. 2016; 397: 617-35

Lab Members

Tait lab 076

Postdoctoral Scientists

Asma Ahmed
Rosalie Heilig
Alfredo Montes Gomez

Senior Scientific Officer

Catherine Cloix

PhD Student

Esmée Vringer (CRUK Glasgow Centre)


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Seminars 2021

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