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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
JC conceived of the study, carried out the Kaiso/p120ctn knockdown studies and performed the molecular analysis in K562, and drafted the manuscript. JM performed the immunofluorescence analysis. LP carried out the Kaiso/p120ctn knockdown studies and performed the molecular analysis in LAMA-84, and carried out the immunohistochemical analysis in patients. EA conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.
Kaiso protein has been identified as a new member of the POZ-ZF subfamily of transcription factors that are involved in development and cancer. There is consistent evidence of the role of Kaiso and its involvement in human tumorigenesis but there is no evidence about its role in hematopoietic differentiation or establishment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). We used, normal K562 cell line, established from a CML patient in blast crisis, and imatinib-resistant K562 cell line, to investigate the specific distribution of Kaiso and their contribution to the cell differentiation status of the blast crisis of CML (CML-BP).
We found cytoplasmic expression of Kaiso, in K562 cells and patients, confirmed by immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry and western blot of cytoplasmic protein fraction. Kaiso was weakly expressed in the imatinib-resistant K562 cell line confirmed by immunofluorescence and western blot. The cytoplasmic expression of Kaiso was not modified when the K562 cells were treated for 16 h with imatinib 0.1 and 1 μM. In our study, small interfering RNA (siRNA) was introduced to down regulate the expression of Kaiso and p120ctn in K562 cell line. Kaiso and p120ctn were down regulated individually (siRNA-Kaiso or siRNA-p120ctn) or in combination using a simultaneous co-transfection (siRNA-Kaiso/p120ctn). We next investigated whether knockdown either Kaiso or p120ctn alone or in combination affects the cell differentiation status in K562 cells. After down regulation we analyzed the expression of hematopoietic cell differentiation and proliferation genes: SCF, PU-1, c-MyB, C/EBPα, Gata-2 and maturation markers of hematopoietic cells expressed in the plasma membrane: CD15, CD11b, CD33, CD117. The levels of SCF and c-MyB were increased by 1000% and 65% respectively and PU-1, Gata-2 and C/EBPα were decreased by 66%, 50% and 80% respectively, when Kaiso levels were down regulated by siRNA. The results were similar when both Kaiso and p120ctn were down regulated by siRNA. The increased expression of SCF and decreased expression of GATA-2 could be responsible by the higher cell viability detected in K562 cells double knock-down of both Kaiso and p120ctn. Finally, we studied the effect of knock-down either Kaiso or p120ctn, alone or in combination on CD15, CD11b, CD33 and Cd117 expression. Using siRNA approach a reduction of 35%, 8% and 13% in CD15, CD33 and CD117 levels respectively, were achieved in all transfections, when compared to scrambled knock-down cells.
These results suggest that both Kaiso and p120ctn, contributes to maintaining the differentiated state of the K562 cells and similar to other cancers, cytoplasmic localization of Kaiso is related to a poor prognosis in CML-BP. By the broad and profound effects on the expression of genes and markers of hematopoietic differentiation produced by Kaiso knock-down, these findings reveal Kaiso as a potential target for selective therapy of CML.