BACKGROUND: Survivin, belonging to the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) gene family, is abundantly expressed in tumors. It has been hypothesized that Survivin facilitates carcinogenesis by inhibition of apoptosis resulting in improved survival of tumorigenic progeny. Additionally, Survivin plays an essential role during mitosis. Together with its molecular partners Aurora B, Borealin and inner centromere protein it secures bipolar chromosome segregation. However, whether increased Survivin levels contribute to progression of tumors by inducing chromosomal instability remains unclear. METHODS: We overexpressed Survivin in U251-MG, SVGp12, U87-MG, HCT116 and p53-deficient U87-MG(shp53) and HCT116(p53-/-) cells. The resulting phenotype was investigated by FACS-assisted cell cycle analysis, Western Blot analysis, confocal laser scan microscopy, proliferation assays, spectral karyotyping and in a U251-MG xenograft model using immune-deficient mice. RESULTS: Overexpression of Survivin affected cells with knockdown of p53, cells harboring mutant p53 and SV40 large T antigen, respectively, resulting in the increase of cell fractions harboring 4n and 〉4n DNA contents. Increased gammaH2AX levels, indicative of DNA damage were monitored in all Survivin-transduced cell lines, but only in p53 wild type cells this was accompanied by an attenuated S-phase entry and activation of p21(waf/cip). Overexpression of Survivin caused a DNA damage response characterized by increased appearance pDNA-PKcs foci in cell nuclei and elevated levels of pATM S1981 and pCHK2 T68. Additionally, evolving structural chromosomal aberrations in U251-MG cells transduced with Survivin indicated a DNA-repair by non-homologous end joining recombination. Subcutaneous transplantation of U251-MG cells overexpressing Survivin and mycN instead of mycN oncogene alone generated tumors with shortened latency and decreased apoptosis. Subsequent SKY-analysis of Survivin/mycN-tumors revealed an increase in structural chromosomal aberrations in cells when compared to mycN-tumors. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that increased Survivin levels promote adaptive evolution of tumors through combining induction of genetic heterogeneity with inhibition of apoptosis.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published