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The phosphatase chronophin (CIN/PDXP) has been shown to be an important regulator of glioma cell migration and invasion. It has two known substrates: p-Ser3-cofilin, the phosphorylated form of the actin binding protein cofilin, and pyridoxal 5′-phosphate, the active form of vitamin B6. Phosphoregulation of cofilin, among other functions, plays an important role in cell migration, whereas active vitamin B6 is a cofactor for more than one hundred enzymatic reactions. The role of CIN has yet only been examined in glioblastoma cell line models derived under serum culture conditions.
We found that CIN is highly expressed in cells cultured under non-adherent, serum-free conditions that are thought to better mimic the in vivo situation. Furthermore, the substrates of CIN, p-Ser3-cofilin and active vitamin B6, were significantly reduced as compared to cell lines cultured in serum-containing medium. To further examine its molecular role we stably knocked down the CIN protein with two different shRNA hairpins in the glioblastoma cell lines NCH421k and NCH644. Both cell lines did not show any significant alterations in proliferation but expression of differentiation markers (such as GFAP or TUBB3) was increased in the knockdown cell lines. In addition, colony formation was significantly impaired in NCH644. Of note, in both cell lines CIN knockdown increased active vitamin B6 levels with vitamin B6 being known to be important for S-adenosylmethionine biosynthesis. Nevertheless, global histone and DNA methylation remained unaltered as was chemoresistance towards temozolomide. To further elucidate the role of phosphocofilin in glioblastoma cells we applied inhibitors for ROCK1/2 and LIMK1/2 to our model. LIMK- and ROCK-inhibitor treatment alone was not toxic for glioblastoma cells. However, it had profound, but antagonistic effects in NCH421k and NCH644 under chemotherapy.
In non-adherent glioblastoma cell lines cultured in serum-free medium, chronophin knockdown induces phenotypic changes, e.g. in colony formation and transcription, but these are highly dependent on the cellular background. The same is true for phenotypes observed after treatment with inhibitors for kinases regulating cofilin phosphorylation (ROCKs and LIMKs). Targeting the cofilin phosphorylation pathway might therefore not be a straightforward therapeutic option in glioblastoma.