Downregulation of uPAR and Cathepsin B Induces Apoptosis via Regulation of Bcl-2 and Bax and Inhibition of the PI3K/Akt Pathway in Gliomas
journal contributionposted on 27.05.2011, 00:00 by Ramarao Malla, Sreelatha Gopinath, Kiranmai Alapati, Christopher S. Gondi, Meena Gujrati, Dzung H. Dinh, Sanjeeva Mohanam, Jasti S. Rao
Background: Glioma is the most commonly diagnosed primary brain tumor and is characterized by invasive and infiltrative behavior. uPAR and cathepsin B are known to be overexpressed in high-grade gliomas and are strongly correlated with invasive cancer phenotypes. Methodology/Principal Findings: In the present study, we observed that simultaneous downregulation of uPAR and cathepsin B induces upregulation of some pro-apoptotic genes and suppression of anti-apoptotic genes in human glioma cells. uPAR and cathepsin B (pCU)-downregulated cells exhibited decreases in the Bcl-2/Bax ratio and initiated the collapse of mitochondrial membrane potential. We also observed that the broad caspase inhibitor, Z-Asp-2, 6-dichlorobenzoylmethylketone rescued pCU-induced apoptosis in U251 cells but not in 5310 cells. Immunoblot analysis of caspase-9 immunoprecipitates for Apaf-1 showed that uPAR and cathepsin B knockdown activated apoptosome complex formation in U251 cells. Downregulation of uPAR and cathepsin B also retarded nuclear translocation and interfered with DNA binding activity of CREB in both U251 and 5310 cells. Further western blotting analysis demonstrated that downregulation of uPAR and cathepsin B significantly decreased expression of the signaling molecules p-PDGFR-β, p-PI3K and p-Akt. An increase in the number of TUNEL-positive cells, increased Bax expression, and decreased Bcl-2 expression in nude mice brain tumor sections and brain tissue lysates confirm our in vitro results. Conclusions/Significance: In conclusion, RNAi-mediated downregulation of uPAR and cathepsin B initiates caspase-dependent mitochondrial apoptosis in U251 cells and caspase-independent mitochondrial apoptosis in 5310 cells. Thus, targeting uPAR and cathepsin B-mediated signaling using siRNA may serve as a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of gliomas.