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Silencing of PTK7 in colon cancer cells: caspase-10-dependent apoptosis via mitochondrial pathway
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Title: Silencing of PTK7 in colon cancer cells: caspase-10-dependent apoptosis via mitochondrial pathway
Physical Description: Journal Article
Language: English
Creator: Meng, Ling
Sefah, Kwame
O'Donoghue, Meghan B.
Zhu, Guizhi
Shangguan, Dihua
Noorali, Afshan
Chen, Yan
Zhou, Lei
Tan, Weihong
Publisher: PLOS ONE
Publication Date: 2010
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Abstract: Protein tyrosine kinase-7 (PTK7) is a catalytically inactive receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK). PTK7 is upregulated in many common human cancers, including colon cancer, lung cancer, gastric cancer and acute myeloid leukemia. The reason for this up-regulation is not yet known. To explore the functional role of PTK7, the expression of PTK7 in HCT 116 cells was examined using small interference (siRNA)-mediated gene silencing. Following transfection, the siRNA successfully suppressed PTK7 mRNA and protein expression. Knocking down of PTK7 in HCT 116 cells inhibited cell proliferation compared to control groups and induced apoptosis. Furthermore, this apoptosis was characterized by decreased mitochondrial membrane potential and activation of caspase-9 and -10. Addition of a caspase-10 inhibitor totally blocked this apoptosis, suggesting that caspase-10 may play a critical role in PTK7-knockdown-induced apoptosis, downstream of mitochondria. These observations may indicate a role for PTK7 in cell proliferation and cell apoptosis and may provide a potential therapeutic pathway for the treatment of a variety of cancers.
Acquisition: Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Ling Meng.
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Silencing of PTK7 in colon cancer cells:

caspase-10-dependent apoptosis via

mitochondrial pathway





LingMeng, Kwame Sefah, Meghan B. O'Donoghue, Guizhi Zhu, Dihua .\M/iri ,,h~ .

Afshan Noorali, Yan Chen, Lei Zhou and Weihong Tan


Department of Chemistry and Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics


Shands Cancer Center and Center for Research at the Bio/nano Interface


UF Genetics Institute and McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida


Gainesville, FL 32611-7200


CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Weihong Tan, Department of Chemistry and Shands

Cancer Center, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611; Tel and fax

352-846-2410, e-mail: tan@chem.ufl.edu










ABSTRACT

Protein tyrosine kinase-7 (PTK7) is a catalytically inactive receptor tyrosine kinase

(RTK). PTK7 is upregulated in many common human cancers, including colon

cancer, lung cancer, gastric cancer and acute myeloid leukemia. The reason for this

up-regulation is not yet known. To explore the functional role of PTK7, the

expression of PTK7 in HCT 116 cells was examined using small interference

(siRNA)-mediated gene silencing. Following transfection, the siRNA successfully

suppressed PTK7 mRNA and protein expression. Knocking down of PTK7 in HCT

116 cells inhibited cell proliferation compared to control groups and induced

apoptosis. Furthermore, this apoptosis was characterized by decreased

mitochondrial membrane potential and activation of caspase-9 and -10. Addition of

a caspase-10 inhibitor totally blocked this apoptosis, suggesting that caspase-10 may

play a critical role in PTK7-knockdown-induced apoptosis, downstream of

mitochondria. These observations may indicate a role for PTK7 in cell proliferation

and cell apoptosis and may provide a potential therapeutic pathway for the treatment

of a variety of cancers.










INTRODUCTION

Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) compose a class oftransmembrane signaling

proteins that transmit extracellular signals to the interior of the cell. Misregulation of

RTKs plays an important role in the development and/or progression of many forms

of cancer [1]. Protein tyrosine kinase-7 (PTK7), which is also known as colon

carcinoma kinase-4 (CCK4), is a relatively new and little studied member of the RTK

superfamily. It contains an extracellular domain with seven immunoglobulin-like

loops, a transmembrane domain, and a catalytically inactive tyrosine kinase domain

[2,3]. However, as a result of an amino acid substitution within the catalytic domain,

PTK7 is a pseudokinase without detectable catalytic tyrosine kinase activity [1,4]. It

was originally identified as a gene-expressed colon cancer-derived cell line, but it is

not expressed in human adult colon tissues [2]. In contrast, high levels of PTK7

expression are seen in fetal mouse colons [1,2,4]. The expression of PTK7 is

up-regulated in many common human cancers, including colon cancer, lung cancer,

gastric cancer and acute myeloid leukemia [2,5,6,7,8,9]. Recently, PTK7 was

identified as a novel regulator of non-canonical WNT or planar cell polarity (PCP)

signaling [10,11]. PTK7 also appears to play an important role in tube formation,

migration, invasion of endothelia and angiogenesis in HUVEC cells [12]. However,

the functional role of PTK7 in cell proliferation and apoptosis remains unclear.

Aptotosis is programmed cell death, typically mediated by a family of cysteine

proteases known as caspases [13]. Caspases are synthesized as inactive proenzymes

with either a long (caspase-8, -9 and -10) or a short (caspase-3, -6 and -7) prodomain

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[14,15]. These latter proteases cleave a series of essential intracellular proteins

leading to cell death [16].

Two main apoptosis pathways have been identified. The intrinsic pathway

(mitochondria pathway) involves a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and

release of cytochrome c[17], which activates caspase-9 through the apoptosome.

Then, caspase-9 initiates a proteolytic caspase cascade that kills the cells. The

extrinsic pathway (death receptor pathway) involves the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)

receptor superfamily. In response to TNF ligand binding, these membrane receptors

recruit adapter molecules and activate caspase-8 in the death-inducing signaling

complex (DISC). Activated caspase-8 either directly activates downstream effector

caspases, such as caspase-3, or connects to the intrinsic pathway through cleavage of

BCL-2 Interacting Domain (Bid) to truncated Bid (tBid)[18].

The caspase-10 gene is linked to the caspase-8 gene at the human chromosome

locus 2q33-34 [19]. However, the physiological functions of caspase-10 remain

poorly understood, although it is thought to play a role in the death receptor pathway.

Caspase-10 was also reported to be activated downstream of the mitochondria in

cytotoxic drug-induced apoptosis of tumor cells [20]. Acquired inactivating mutations

of caspase-10 have been identified in tumor cells from patients with solid tumors

[21,22,23]. Recently, caspase-10 was shown to play a role in apoptosis induced by

paclitaxel, an anticancer drug, through a Fas-Associated protein with Death Domain

(FADD) -dependent mechanism [24].










The term RNA interference (RNAi) was first used by Fire et al. [25] in their work

on Caenorhabditis elegans. RNAi is a cellular mechanism by which small interfering

RNAs (siRNAs) (19-23 nucleotides in length) trigger the degradation of specific

mRNA [25,26]. It has been demonstrated that siRNAs can silence cognate gene

expression via the RNAi pathway in mammalian cells [27]. The properties of RNAi,

including stringent target-gene specificity and simplicity of design and testing [28],

have greatly widened its potential for mechanistic studies of proteins, as well as for

therapeutic approaches to treat diseases, including cancer [29,30].

In this study, a siRNA targeting human PTK7 mRNA was used for maximal

inhibition of PTK7 expression in order to probe the role of PTK7 in apoptosis and

proliferation. Knocking down PTK7 in HCT 116 cells inhibited cell proliferation and

induced apoptosis. Furthermore, this apoptosis was characterized by decreased

mitochondrial membrane potential and activation of caspase-9 and -10. Addition of a

caspase-10 inhibitor totally blocked this apoptosis, suggesting that caspase-10 may

play a critical role in PTK7-knockdown-induced apoptosis downstream of

mitochondria. Therefore, these observations may indicate a role for PTK7 in cell

proliferation and cell apoptosis.




MATERIALS AND METHODS

Materials. McCoy's 5A media were purchased from ATCC; fetal bovine serum

(FBS) (heat inactivated) was purchased from GIBCO, and penicillin-streptomycin

was purchased from Cellgro. Micro-FastTrack 2.0 Kit was purchased from Invitrogen.

5










A colorimetric bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) kit was from BD Pharmingen. IScript

One-Step RT-PCR Kit with SYBR Green was from Biorad. Protease inhibitor cocktail

(mixture of 4-(2-aminoethyl)benzenesulfonyl fluoride (AEBSF), E-64, bestatin,

leupeptin, aprotinin, and sodium EDTA) and 0.4% trypan blue were from Sigma. The

protein assay kit was from Bio-Rad. Antibodies against caspase-9 and p-actin were

from Cell Signaling Technology. Antibody against caspase-10 was from Millipore.

Antibody against PTK7 was from Abnova. Goat anti-mouse IgG HRP-conjugated

secondary antibody and goat anti-rabbit IgG HRP-conjugated secondary antibody

were purchased from Cell Signaling Technology. Vybrant Apoptosis Assay Kit #2, 4x

NuPAGE LDS sample buffer, 4-12% NuPAGE Bis-Tris gels, 20x NuPAGE MOPS

SDS running buffer, and 20x NuPAGE transfer buffer were from Invitrogen.

Immobilon-P transfer membrane was from Millipore. SuperSignal West Dura

Extended-Duration Substrate and Restore plus Western blot Stripping buffer were

from Thermo Scientific. X-ray films were from ISCBioExpress. JC-1

(5,5',6,6'-tetrachloro-l,1',3,3'- tetraethylbenzimidazolylcarbocyanine iodide) was

purchased from Anaspec. Caspase-9 inhibitor (Z-LEHD-FMK), caspase-3 inhibitor

(Z-DEVD-FMK), caspase-8 inhibitor (Z-IETD-FMK), caspase-family inhibitor

(Z-VAD-FMK), caspase-1 inhibitor (Z-YVAD-FMK), caspase-10 inhibitor

(Z-AEVD-FMK) and caspase-2 inhibitor (Z-VDVAD-FMK) were purchased from

BioVision. Caspase-10 Fluorometric Protease Assay Kit was from Millipore.

Cell Culture. HCT 116 (colon carcinoma) cells were obtained from ATCC

(Manassas, VA) and maintained in tissue culture at 37 C and 5% CO2. p53-null HCT

6










116 cells were provided by Dr. Bert Vogelstein (The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer

Center). Cells were cultured in McCoy's 5A medium supplemented with 10% fetal

bovine serum (FBS) (heat inactivated) and 100 IU/mL penicillin-streptomycin.

RNA interference. HiPerFect transfection reagent, HP-validated siRNA specific

for PTK7, named PTK7 siRNA (sense: 5'- CGGGATGATGTCACTGGAGAA-3'),

and a nonspecific siRNA (AllStars Negative Control siRNA) were purchased from

Qiagen. HCT 116 cells were transfected with siRNA by HiPerFect transfection

reagent. On day 1, cells in exponential growth phase were harvested and suspended in

growth medium. Cells were divided into four groups and were treated with PTK7

siRNA, a nonspecific siRNA as negative control, HiPerFect vehicle only, or were left

untreated. For each transfection, a 500 tiL cell suspension was transfected with 25 nM

siRNA using 4 tiL transfection reagent in 24-well plates. Cells were kept in normal

culture conditions and collected 2, 3 or 4 days after transfection for analysis.

Flow Cytometric Analysis. After transfection with siRNAs as described above,

cells were trypsinized, washed twice in PBS, and counted using a hemocytometer.

Aliquots of 5x105 cells were incubated with excess phycoerythring (PE)-labeled

anti-PTK7 in 200 |tL of binding buffer (PBS containing 5 mM MgCl2, 4.5 mg/mL

glucose, 0.1 mg/mL yeast tRNA, 1 mg/mL BSA and 20% FBS) on ice for 30 min.

Cells were then washed twice with 1 mL of binding buffer and suspended in 0.3 mL

of binding buffer. The fluorescence was determined with a FACScan cytometer

(Becton Dickinson Immunocytometry Systems, San Jose, CA). PE-labeled anti-IgG

was used as a negative control.










Quantitative RT-PCR. Total mRNA from cells treated with various siRNAs was

extracted with Micro-FastTrack 2.0 Kit according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Real-time PCR was performed on mRNA (50 ng) with iScript One-Step RT-PCR Kit

using SYBR Green with a Biorad iCycler. All reactions were performed in a 50-.L

volume in triplicate. Primers for human PTK7 were purchased from Qiagen

(QT00015568). PCR parameters were as follows: 50 C for 30 min, 5 min of Taq

activation at 95 C, followed by 45 cycles of PCR: 95 C x 30 s, 57 C x 60 s, and

720C x 60 s. The relative amount of target mRNA was normalized to GAPDH

mRNA. Specificity was verified by melting curve analysis. Means and standard errors

of at least three replicates of each experiment are calculated. Significance was

determined by t-test, a p value<0.05 indicated by an asterisk.

Cell Number detection by Trypan Blue Exclusion Assay. For four days after

treatment, cell suspensions were prepared by trypsinization, and cells were

resuspended in 1 mL media. To 25 pL of the cell suspension, 25 pL of 0.4% trypan

blue was added, and cells were counted using a hemocytometer.

Proliferation Assay. Cell proliferation was studied using a colorimetric

bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) kit according to the manufacturer's instructions. First,

cells were transfected with siRNA. After 48 h of treatment, 10 iM BrdU solution was

added to the medium. The medium was discarded after 2 h, and cells were fixed and

permeabilized with BD Cytofix/Cytoperm Buffer for 30 min at room temperature.

After removing Cytofix/Cytoperm Buffer, cells were incubated with 100 .iL of

diluted DNase (diluted to 300 tg/mL in PBS) for 1 hour at 370C to expose

8










incorporated BrdU. Cells were then resuspended in 50 [L of BD Perm/Wash Buffer

containing diluted FITC-labeled anti-BrdU and incubated for 20 minutes at room

temperature. Finally, cells were incubated with 20 [L of the 7-AAD solution.

Samples were analyzed by flow cytometry. Means and standard errors of at least three

replicates of each experiment were calculated. Significance was determined by t-test;

a p value<0.05 is indicated by an asterisk.

Annexin V/Propidium Iodide Double-Staining Assay. Annexin V/propidium

iodide (PI) double-staining was performed using the Invitrogen Vybrant Apoptosis

Assay Kit #2. Cells were washed twice in ice-cold PBS buffer and centrifuged at 900

rpm for 3 min. The pellets were resuspended in binding buffer at a density of 106

cells/mL. A sample solution (100 [L) was double-stained with 5 [L Annexin V/Alexa

Fluor 488 and 2 [L 100 jg/mL PI. After incubation at room temperature for 15 min,

400 [L of binding buffer was added, and cells were analyzed by flow cytometry.

Western Blot Analyses. After HCT 116 cells were transfected with PTK7 siRNA

for 12 h, 24 h, 30 h, and 48 h, whole cells were harvested and washed twice with

ice-cold PBS. Then cells were lysed in radioimmunoprecipitation buffer (150 mM

NaC1, 1% Triton X-100, 1% sodium deoxycholate, 0.1% sodium dodecyl sulfate

(SDS), 50 mM Tris-HC1, pH 7.5, and 2 mM EDTA) in the presence of proteinase

inhibitor cocktail for 20 min on ice. Lysates were centrifuged at 14,000 rpm for 20

min at 40C, and the protein content in the supernatant was measured using the

Bio-Rad protein assay. Fifty micrograms of supernatant proteins were mixed with 4x

NuPAGE LDS sample buffer and heated at 700C for 10 min. The proteins were

9










separated on 4-12% NuPAGE Bis-Tris gels with 1x NuPAGE MOPS SDS running

buffer and then electrotransferred onto a PVDF transfer membrane with NuPAGE

transfer buffer at 50 V for 1 h. The membranes were blocked with 5% nonfat dry milk

in PBS buffer containing 0.2% Tween 20 (PBST) for 2 h at room temperature. The

membranes were probed with primary antibodies in PBST containing 5% nonfat dry

milk overnight at 40C. After three successive washings with PBST for 10 min, the

membranes were incubated with horseradish peroxidase-conjugated goat anti-mouse

IgG antibody or goat anti-rabbit IgG antibody in PBST containing 5% nonfat dry milk

for 1 h at room temperature. After three successive washings with PBST for 10 min,

the proteins signals were developed with a SuperSignal West Dura Extended Duration

Substrate kit and transferred from the membrane to X-ray films. Protein loading was

normalized by probing the same membrane with anti-actin antibody. For p-actin

detection, previously used membranes were soaked in Restore Plus Western Blot

Stripping Buffer at room temperature for 30 min and hybridized with anti-P actin.

Measurement of Mitochondrial Membrane Potential. Dye JC-1

(5,5',6,6'-tetrachloro-1,1',3,3'- tetraethylbenzimidazolylcarbocyanine iodide) was used

to determine mitochondrial membrane potential (ANm), the loss of which is regarded

as a crucial step in the apoptosis pathway. HCT 116 cells were transfected with

siRNA for 48 h or 72 h, after which the cells were washed with cold PBS and stained

by incubating with 2 iM JC-1 for 20 min at 370C. Then, the mitochondrial membrane

potential was detected by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry at 590 nm.










Caspase-10 Activity Measurement. Caspase-10 activity was measured using the

Caspase-10 Fluorometic Protease Assay Kit. Briefly, cells were transfected with

PTK7 siRNA, and after 24 h or 48 h cells were harvested. Two million cells were

resuspended in chilled lysis buffer and incubated on ice for 10 min. Then, 50 [L of 2x

Reaction Buffer and 5 tL of the 1 mM AEVD-AFC substrate (50 pM final

concentration) were added to each sample. After incubation at 370C for 2 h, samples

were analyzed using a microplate reader equipped with a 400 nm excitation filter and

a 505 nm emission filter. Means and standard errors of at least three replicates of each

experiment were calculated. Significance was determined by t-test, a p value<0.05 is

indicated by an asterisk.




RESULTS

Inhibition of PTK7 expression by PTK7 siRNA. Expression of PTK7 in HCT

116, human colon carcinoma cells, was investigated by flow cytometry (Fig. 1A,

untreated) and Western blot (Fig. 1B, 0 h). Comparing the fluorescence signal of

PE-labeled anti-PTK7 to PE-labeled anti-mouse IgG clearly shows that PTK7 is

expressed in HCT 116 cells.

Expression of PTK7 was knocked down using PTK7-targeted siRNA and the flow

cytometry results for the targeted cells were compared to those exposed to vehicle

only, nonspecific siRNA or untreated, as shown in Fig. 1A. After 48 hours, the peak

of anti-PTK7-PE in HCT 116 transfected with PTK7 siRNA shifted back to the peak

of the background control protein, anti-IgG-PE, indicating that the PTK7 expression

11










level in HCT 116 cells transfected with PTK7 siRNA greatly decreased. At the same

time, there was no corresponding shift in the control siRNA or vehicle-treated groups,

indicating that neither the HiPerFect transfection reagent nor the nonspecific siRNA

affected PTK7 expression. When PTK7 expression was probed after 12 h, 24 h, 30 h

and 48 h of transfection using Western blot (Fig. 1B), the results clearly showed that

the level of PTK7 expression decreased after 48 h of transfection. In addition, total

mRNA was extracted from the untreated, vehicle, nonspecific siRNA, and PTK7

siRNA groups. As shown in Fig. 1C, PTK7 siRNA induced 75-80% reduction of

PTK7 mRNA in HCT 116 cells. These results indicated that both PTK7 protein and

mRNA expression levels were greatly decreased by PTK7 siRNA. This proved the

function and efficiency of PTK7 siRNA and provided a solid basis for our study of

PTK7's functional role.

Viability and proliferation of PTK7 siRNA-treated HCT 116 cells. The effect of

PTK7 suppression on the viability of HCT 116 cells was investigated by counting the

total number of live cells every day after transfection. As shown in Fig. 2A, the

number of live HCT 116 cells transfected with PTK7 siRNA was shown to be

significantly different from that of untreated groups on day 4. This finding

demonstrated a significant inhibition of cell viability in the HCT 116 cells treated

with PTK7 siRNA. To confirm that the decrease of cell viability resulted from

suppression of PTK7, the same assays were carried out with HCT 116 cells

transfected with nonspecific siRNA or treated only with vehicle. The results showed

that the PTK7 siRNA-treated sample contained the smallest number of cells.

12










Although vehicle-treated and nonspecific siRNA-treated cells had smaller cell

numbers than untreated cells, there were significantly fewer cells in the PTK7

siRNA-treated sample.

To ascertain the effect of suppression of PTK7 on HCT 116 cell proliferation, a

BrdU incorporation experiment was performed to measure DNA synthesis. After 48 h

of transfection, cells were seeded in 24-well culture plates and were incubated with 10

iM BrdU for 2 h. Cells were then fixed, and BrdU incorporation was detected using a

FITC-labeled anti-BrdU antibody (Fig. 2B). Silencing of PTK7 significantly inhibited

BrdU incorporation in HCT 116 cells, suggesting a direct effect of PTK7 protein on

HCT 116 cell proliferation.

Increase of apoptosis of PTK7 siRNA-treated HCT 116 cells. An Annexin V/PI

staining experiment was carried out to study the possibility that knocking down PTK7

could affect the apoptosis of HCT 116 cells. Phosphatidylserine (PS) is located in the

inner leaflet of the cell membrane in healthy cells. During apoptosis, PS becomes

translocated to the outer surface of the cell membrane, and Annexin V/PI assay

detects the PS on the outer surface. The results in Figure 2C show that the PTK7

siRNA group showed significant increase in apoptotic cells on day 4 compared with

untreated, vehicle, and nonspecific siRNA control groups.

Changes in mitochondrial membrane potential and activation of caspase-9 in

HCT 116 cells treated with PTK7 siRNA. To study the mechanism through which

knocking down PTK7 induces apoptosis in HCT 116 cells, the effect of knocking

down PTK7 on mitochondrial membrane potential (AYm) was determined by

13










fluorescence microscopy (Fig. 3A) and flow cytometry (Fig. 3B). Dye JC-1 was used

as an indicator. In healthy cells, polarized mitochondria have a negative charge, which

allows JC-1 dye with delocalized positive charge to enter the mitochondrial matrix

and accumulate there. When the critical concentration is exceeded, JC-1 forms

J-aggregates, and the cells become fluorescent red (FL2). In apoptotic cells, the

mitochondrial membrane potential collapses, and JC-1 cannot accumulate within the

mitochondria. In these apoptotic cells, JC-1 remains in the cytoplasm in a green

fluorescent monomeric form (FL1). After HCT 116 cells were transfected with siRNA

or control as described above and incubated for 48 h or 72 h, the decrease of ATm in

HCT 116 cells transfected with PTK7 siRNA was observed. After 72 h of

transfection, the percentage of cells with polarized mitochondria was 90%, 87% and

88% for cells in the untreated, vehicle and nonspecific siRNA groups, respectively.

However, only 35% of total cells in the PTK7 siRNA group had polarized

mitochondria. This trend was seen even at 48 h when only 58% cells had polarized

mitochondria. These data suggested that mitochondrial dysfunction was involved in

the apoptosis induced by PTK7 knockdown.

A variety of signalling pathways may be involved in apoptosis, and the

mitochondria play a major role. Mitochondrial dysfunction causes the release of

cytochrome c, which activates caspase-9, in turn fueling apoptosis. Caspase-9

activation was detected by Western blot after HCT 116 cells were transfected with

PTK7 siRNA and cultured for 12 h, 24 h, 30 h, and 48 h, respectively. As shown in










Figure 3C, caspase-9 was activated and involved in the apoptosis induced by PTK7

knockdown.

Role of caspase-10 in PTK7-knockdown-induced apoptosis. To determine

whether caspases mediate the apoptosis induced by knock down of PTK7, cells were

pretreated with a pancaspase inhibitor or one of several single-caspase-specific

inhibitors. Rescue of the cells from apoptosis would mean that the inhibited caspase

was implicated in PTK7-deficient cell death. After pre-incubation of the HCT 116

cells with 20 iM pancaspase-family inhibitor at 370C for 3 h, the cells were

transfected with siRNA for 48 h. After incubation for 48 h, cell viability was tested

using Annexin V/PI (Fig. 4A). Cells pre-incubated with pancaspase-family inhibitor

showed good cell viability (80+13%) after transfection with PTK7 siRNA, within

uncertainty of the cell viability of the nonspecific siRNA group (83+7.5%).

Meanwhile, cells directly transfected with PTK7 siRNA had significantly lower cell

viability (36+12%). Pancaspase-family inhibitor blocked caspase activity and also

blocked apoptosis induced by knock down of PTK7, indicating that the apoptosis

induced by knock down of PTK7 is caspase-dependent.

To investigate which caspase plays the critical role in this apoptosis, HCT 116 cells

were pre-treated with caspase-9 inhibitor (Z-LEHD-FMK), caspase-3 inhibitor

(Z-DEVD-FMK), caspase-8 inhibitor (Z-IETD-FMK), caspase-family inhibitor

(Z-VAD-FMK), caspase-1 inhibitor (Z-YVAD-FMK), caspase-10 inhibitor

(Z-AEVD-FMK), caspase-2 inhibitor (Z-VDVAD-FMK), or DMSO vehicle at 370C

for 3 h, followed by transfection with PTK7 siRNA. After incubation for 48 h, cell

15










viability was tested by Annexin V/PI using flow cytometry. As shown in Fig. 4B,

inhibition of caspase-10 blocked apoptosis, with 79+3% of cells viable. This meant

that caspse-10 may play a critical role in the apoptotic pathway induced by knock

down of PTK7.

To confirm the activation of caspase-10 in apoptosis induced by PTK7 knockdown,

procaspase-10 protein levels in cell lysates transfected with PTK7 siRNA were

examined using Western blot (Fig. 5A). Procaspase-10 decreased after 12 h of

transfection and increased after 30 h of transfection. Also, as the linkage between the

intrinsic pathway and the extrinsic pathway, the cleavage of Bid to tBid was

investigated, and there was no obvious tBid, indicating that there was no signal

transfer from the extrinsic pathway to the intrinsic pathway. In another experiment,

PTK7 expression in HCT 116 was initially suppressed using PTK7 siRNA, resulting

in apoptosis in these cells. The ability of cell lysates to cleave the peptide substrates

(Ac-AEVD-AFC) was tested as an indicator of caspase-10 activity. The results in

figure 5B show significant increase in caspase 10 activity in cells treated with PTK7

siRNA.

Protein p53 involvement in PTK7-knockdown-induced apoptosis. Protein p53

has been proved as a tumor suppressor protein in humans[31], and HCT 116 cells

express wide-type p53.[32,33] In order to study the involvement of p53 in the

apoptosis induced by PTK7 knockdown, p53-null HCT 116 was used as the second

cell line to carry out PTK7 knockdown and other related experiments. First, the PTK7

expression level without/with siRNA treatment was monitored by flow cytometry (Fig.

16










6A). The p53-null HCT 116 cells express a high amount of PTK7 on the cell

membrane, but after 48 hours of PTK7 siRNA transfection, the peak for

anti-PTK7-PE in p53-null HCT 116 shifted back to the peak of the background

control protein, anti-IgG-PE. This indicated that the PTK7 expression level in

p53-null HCT 116 cells transfected with PTK7 siRNA was greatly decreased. Next,

the number of live p53-null HCT 116 cells transfected with PTK7 siRNA was shown

to be significantly different from that of untreated groups on day 4, demonstrating a

significant inhibition of cell viability in p53-null HCT 116 cells by treating with

PTK7 siRNA (Fig. 6B). And in a BrdU incorporation experiment, silencing of PTK7

significantly inhibited BrdU incorporation in p53-null HCT 116 cells, suggesting a

direct effect of PTK7 protein on cell proliferation (Fig. 6C). On the other hand, the

Annexin V/PI staining experiment showed that the PTK7 siRNA-treated p53-null

HCT 116 showed significant increase in apoptotic and dead cells on day 4 compared

with untreated, vehicle, and nonspecific siRNA control groups.

The apoptosis induced by PTK7 knockdown has been proved to be caspase-10

dependent in wild type HCT 116. So the apoptosis pathway in p53-null HCT 116

induced by PTK7 knockdown was further investigated. JC-1 experiment was

monitored by both fluorescence microscopy (Fig. 7A) and flow cytometry (Fig. 7B).

Clearly, mitochondrial membrane potential decreased in p53-null HCT 116 cells

treated with PTK7 siRNA. At the same time, a caspase inhibitor experiment was

carried out using p53-null HCT 116 cells. As shown in Fig. 7C, pancaspase inhibitor

or caspase-10 inhibitor treatment inhibited the apoptosis induced by PTK7

17










knockdown compared to all other inhibitors, which indicated the apoptosis in p53-null

HCT 116 cells induced by PTK7 knockdown was caspased-10 dependent.




DISCUSSION

The present work demonstrates that RNAi suppression of PTK7 induces

caspase-10-dependent apoptosis in both wild type and p53-null HCT 116 cells. Small

interfering RNA is a very popular reverse genetics tool, which inhibits gene

expression through sequence-specific degradation of target mRNA. This study

showed that siRNA efficiently suppressed PTK7 expression at the level of both

mRNA and protein. A nonspecific siRNA was used as a negative control to confirm

that suppression of PTK7 was the result of the specific silencing effect of PTK7

siRNA.

After confirming suppression of PTK7 by siRNA, we then considered whether the

inhibition of PTK7 would affect cell viability and proliferation. Trypan Blue

Exclusion Assay showed that the number of live HCT 116 cells transfected with

PTK7 siRNA was remarkably less than that of the control groups on day 4. Compared

to nonspecific siRNA group as negative control, it was clear that suppression of PTK7

accounted for the inhibition of cell viability. To assess the effect of PTK7 knockdown

on HCT 116 cell proliferation, a BrdU incorporation experiment was performed to

measure DNA synthesis. Interestingly, PTK7 silencing significantly inhibited BrdU

incorporation in HCT 116 cells, indicating that knock down of PTK7 expression had a

direct effect on HCT 116 cell growth. In fact, PTK7 has been identified as a gene

18










expressed in primary colon carcinoma, and overexpression of PTK7 is often found in

colon carcinoma cells. Furthermore, knock down of PTK7 induced HCT 116 cell

apoptosis, verified through Annexin V/PI stain. After knock down of PTK7, ratios of

apoptotic HCT 116 cells revealed by Annexin V/PI stain showed a large increase of

percentage of apoptotic HCT 116 cells. These results provide evidence that

suppression of PTK7 can significantly increase the occurrence of apoptosis in HCT

116 cells, and that an excess of PTK7 can be associated with resistance of cancer cells

to induction of cell death.

The results further demonstrated that knock down of PTK7 caused a large decrease

in mitochondrial membrane potential of HCT 116 cells, suggesting that mitochondrial

dysfunction may be involved in this apoptosis, and that the mitochondrial pathway to

cell death may play an important role in apoptosis induced by knock down of PTK7.

Caspase-9 was also activated after PTK7 siRNA treatment in HCT 116 cells. At the

same time, apoptosis inhibition experiments showed that caspase-10 also plays a

critical role in apoptosis induced by knock down of PTK7 in HCT 116 cells.

Interestingly, caspase-8 inhibitor had no effect on this apoptosis at all, even though it

has always been thought that caspase-8 and caspase-10 play identical roles in the

extrinsic pathway to cell death. Western blot was used to examine the procaspase-8,

-10 and active caspase-8 levels in PTK7 siRNA-treated HCT 116 cells. Procaspase-10

level changes were obvious, but active caspase-8 was not detectable (data not shown).

Additionally, Bid/t-Bid level changes were examined, and no t-Bid was found (Fig.

5A) indicating that there was no signal transfer from the extrinsic pathway to the

19










intrinsic pathway. Thus, the extrinsic pathway was not involved as reported by

Filomenko P. et al.[20].

Furthermore, p53-null HCT 116 cells were used to study the involvement of p53 in

the apoptosis induced by PTK7 knockdown. When treated with PTK7 siRNA, cell

proliferation decreased and apoptosis increased in p53-null HCT 116 cells. Also,

mitochondria were involved in the apoptosis, which was caspase-10 dependent. When

comparing the results between wild type HCT 116 and p53-null HCT 116, PTK7

knockdown had less effect on cell proliferation and apoptosis in p53-null HCT 116

cells, but the apoptosis induced by PTK7 knockdown was caspase-10 dependent in

both cell lines. Therefore, the effect of PTK7 knockdown on cell apoptosis was p53

related but not dependent.

Altogether, the results show that the knock down of PTK7 in wild type HCT 116

cells and p53-null HCT 116 cells induces cell apoptosis and affects cell proliferation.

Also, caspase-10 activation plays a critical role in the caspase cascade, downstream of

mitochondria after knock down of PTK7.




CONCLUSION

In conclusion, suppression of PTK7 significantly increases apoptosis and inhibits

cell proliferation in HCT 116 cells, indicating that PTK7 may play an important role

in maintaining cancer cell viability. Apoptosis induced by knock down of PTK7 was

caspase-10-dependent, and caspase-10 activation was downstream of mitochondria.










Therefore, the use of PTK7 siRNA, or other methods that counteract PTK7 function,

may be valuable in the development of cancer therapeutic agents.




ACKNOWLEDGMENT


We thank Dr. Bert Vogelstein for the gift of p53-null HCT 116 cells and Dr.

Kathryn R. Williams for help with the manuscript. Publication of this article was

funded in part by the University of Florida Open-Access publishing Fund.









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FIGURE LEGENDS


Figure 1. PTK7 expression in HCT 116 cells after treatment with vehicle, nonspecific

siRNA and PTK7 siRNA. (A) Flow cytometry assay for the binding of the PE-labeled

anti-PTK7 with HCT 116 cells (Grey curves). The black curves represent the

background binding of anti-IgG-PE. The concentration of the antibody in the binding

buffer was 2 gg/gL. (B) Western blot analysis of PTK7 in HCT 116 cells transfected

by PTK7 siRNAs. The membrane was stripped and reprobed by 3-actin antibody as a

loading control. (C) Suppression of PTK7 mRNA expression in HCT 116 cells by

PTK7 siRNAs. Cells were harvested after 48 h of treatment. RT-PCR was performed

using gene-specific primers. The amount of PTK7 mRNA expression was normalized

to the untreated group. Data are means.d. of three independent experiments.

*Student's t-test: P<0.05.


Figure 2. Cell viability in HCT 116 cells after treatment with vehicle, nonspecific

siRNA and PTK7 siRNA. Data are means.d. of three independent experiments. (A)

The number of live cells was counted daily for 4 days using Trypan blue. (B) BrdU

incorporation relative to untreated cells detected by flow cytometry. Cells were

incubated with 10 pM BrdU for 2 h after 48 h of treatment. The amount of BrdU

incorporation was normalized to the untreated group. Data are means.d. of three

independent experiments. *Student's t-test: P<0.05. (C) Apoptosis occurrence in HCT

116 cells detected by Annexin V/PI stain on days 1-4 after transfection. Cells stained

negative for both Annexin V and PI were considered healthy.










Figure 3. Involvement of mitochondrial pathway in apoptosis induced by PTK7

scilencing. (A) Fluorescence microscope detection of mitochondrial membrane

potential in treated HCT 116 cells. (B) Flow cytometry detection of mitochondrial

membrane potential in treated HCT 116 cells. (C) Activation of caspase-9 involved in

apoptosis induced by knocking down PTK7. The membrane was stripped and

reprobed by p-actin antibody, as a loading control.


Figure 4. Cell viability after incubation with caspase inhibitors prior to transaction of

PTK7 siRNA. (A) Apoptosis induced by knocking down PTK7 was

caspase-dependent. Data are means.d. of three independent experiments. *Student's

t-test: P<0.05. (B) Caspase-10 inhibitor totally blocked the apoptosis induced by

knock down of PTK7. Data: means.d. of three independent experiments, *Student's

t-test: P<0.05.


Figure 5. The activation of caspase-10 in apoptosis induced by knocking down of

PTK7. (A) Western blot analysis of procaspase-10 and Bid in HCT 116 cells

transfected by PTK7 siRNAs. The membrane was stripped and reprobed by p-actin

antibody, as a loading control. (B) Caspase-10 activity in HCT 116 cells: untreated

and treated with vehicle, nonspecific siRNA and siRNA. Results were given as ratios

to caspase-10 activity in untreated cells. Data are means.d. of three independent

experiments. *Student's t-test: P<0.05.


Figure 6. PTK7 expression and cell apoptosis induced by knocking down of PTK7 in

p53-null HCT 116 cells. (A) Flow cytometry assay for the binding of the PE-labeled

26










anti-PTK7 with p53-null HCT 116 cells (Grey curves). The black curves represent the

background binding of anti-IgG-PE. The concentration of the antibody in the binding

buffer was 2 [tg/tiL. (B) The number of live p53-null HCT 116 cells was counted on

day 4 after treatment with vehicle, nonspecific siRNA and PTK7 siRNA. Data are

means.d. of three independent experiments. *Student's t-test: P<0.05. (C) BrdU

incorporation relative to untreated cells detected by flow cytometry. p53-null HCT

116 Cells were incubated with 10 .iM BrdU for 2 h after 48 h of treatment. The

amount of BrdU incorporation was normalized to the untreated group. Data are

means.d. of three independent experiments. *Student's t-test: P<0.05. (D) Apoptosis

occurrence in p53-null HCT 116 cells detected by Annexin V/PI stain on days 4 after

transfection. Cells stained negative for both Annexin V and PI were considered

healthy and percentage was shown in the figure.


Figure 7. Mitochondria and caspase-10 involvement in the apoptosis induced by

knocking down of PTK7 in p53-null HCT 116 cells. (A) Fluorescence microscope

detection of mitochondrial membrane potential in treated p53-null HCT 116 cells. (B)

Flow cytometry detection of mitochondrial membrane potential in treated p53-null

HCT 116 cells. (C) Cell viability after incubation with caspase inhibitors prior to

transaction of PTK7 siRNA. Caspase-10 inhibitor totally blocked the apoptosis

induced by knock down of PTK7. Data: means.d. of three independent experiments,

*Student's t-test: P<0.05.




Silencing of PTK7 in colon cancer cells:




caspase-10-dependent apoptosis via




mitochondrial pathway














LingMeng, Kwame Sefah, Meghan B. O'Donoghue, Guizhi Zhu, Dihua Shangguan,




Afshan Noorali, Yan Chen, Lei Zhou and Weihong Tan





Department of Chemistry and Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics





Shands Cancer Center and Center for Research at the Bio/nano Interface





UF Genetics Institute and McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida





Gainesville, FL 32611-7200





CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Weihong Tan, Department of Chemistry and Shands




Cancer Center, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611; Tel and fax




352-846-2410, e-mail: tan@chem.ufl.edu
1


ABSTRACT





Protein tyrosine kinase-7 (PTK7) is a catalytically inactive receptor tyrosine kinase





(RTK). PTK7 is upregulated in many common human cancers, including colon





cancer, lung cancer, gastric cancer and acute myeloid leukemia. The reason for this





up-regulation is not yet known. To explore the functional role of PTK7, the





expression of PTK7 in HCT 116 cells was examined using small interference





(siRNA)-mediated gene silencing. Following transfection, the siRNA successfully





suppressed PTK7 mRNA and protein expression. Knocking down of PTK7 in HCT





116 cells inhibited cell proliferation compared to control groups and induced





apoptosis. Furthermore, this apoptosis was characterized by decreased





mitochondrial membrane potential and activation of caspase-9 and -10. Addition of





a caspase-10 inhibitor totally blocked this apoptosis, suggesting that caspase-10 may





play a critical role in PTK7-knockdown-induced apoptosis, downstream of





mitochondria. These observations may indicate a role for PTK7 in cell proliferation





and cell apoptosis and may provide a potential therapeutic pathway for the treatment





of a variety of cancers.
2


INTRODUCTION





Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) compose a class of transmembrane signaling





proteins that transmit extracellular signals to the interior of the cell. Misregulation of





RTKs plays an important role in the development and/or progression of many forms





of cancer [1]. Protein tyrosine kinase-7 (PTK7), which is also known as colon





carcinoma kinase-4 (CCK4), is a relatively new and little studied member of the RTK





superfamily. It contains an extracellular domain with seven immunoglobulin-like





loops, a transmembrane domain, and a catalytically inactive tyrosine kinase domain





[2,3]. However, as a result of an amino acid substitution within the catalytic domain,





PTK7 is a pseudokinase without detectable catalytic tyrosine kinase activity [1,4]. It





was originally identified as a gene-expressed colon cancer-derived cell line, but it is





not expressed in human adult colon tissues [2]. In contrast, high levels of PTK7





expression are seen in fetal mouse colons [1,2,4]. The expression of PTK7 is





up-regulated in many common human cancers, including colon cancer, lung cancer,





gastric cancer and acute myeloid leukemia [2,5,6,7,8,9]. Recently, PTK7 was





identified as a novel regulator of non-canonical WNT or planar cell polarity (PCP)





signaling [10,11]. PTK7 also appears to play an important role in tube formation,





migration, invasion of endothelia and angiogenesis in HUVEC cells [12]. However,





the functional role of PTK7 in cell proliferation and apoptosis remains unclear.





Aptotosis is programmed cell death, typically mediated by a family of cysteine





proteases known as caspases [13]. Caspases are synthesized as inactive proenzymes





with either a long (caspase-8, -9 and -10) or a short (caspase-3, -6 and -7) prodomain





3


[14,15]. These latter proteases cleave a series of essential intracellular proteins





leading to cell death [16].





Two main apoptosis pathways have been identified. The intrinsic pathway





(mitochondria pathway) involves a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and





release of cytochrome c[17], which activates caspase-9 through the apoptosome.





Then, caspase-9 initiates a proteolytic caspase cascade that kills the cells. The





extrinsic pathway (death receptor pathway) involves the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)





receptor superfamily. In response to TNF ligand binding, these membrane receptors





recruit adapter molecules and activate caspase-8 in the death-inducing signaling





complex (DISC). Activated caspase-8 either directly activates downstream effector





caspases, such as caspase-3, or connects to the intrinsic pathway through cleavage of





BCL-2 Interacting Domain (Bid) to truncated Bid (tBid)[18].





The caspase-10 gene is linked to the caspase-8 gene at the human chromosome





locus 2q33-34 [19]. However, the physiological functions of caspase-10 remain





poorly understood, although it is thought to play a role in the death receptor pathway.





Caspase-10 was also reported to be activated downstream of the mitochondria in





cytotoxic drug-induced apoptosis of tumor cells [20]. Acquired inactivating mutations





of caspase-10 have been identified in tumor cells from patients with solid tumors





[21,22,23]. Recently, caspase-10 was shown to play a role in apoptosis induced by





paclitaxel, an anticancer drug, through a Fas-Associated protein with Death Domain





(FADD) -dependent mechanism [24].










4


The term RNA interference (RNAi) was first used by Fire et al. [25] in their work





on Caenorhabditis elegans. RNAi is a cellular mechanism by which small interfering





RNAs (siRNAs) (19-23 nucleotides in length) trigger the degradation of specific





mRNA [25,26]. It has been demonstrated that siRNAs can silence cognate gene





expression via the RNAi pathway in mammalian cells [27]. The properties of RNAi,





including stringent target-gene specificity and simplicity of design and testing [28],





have greatly widened its potential for mechanistic studies of proteins, as well as for





therapeutic approaches to treat diseases, including cancer [29,30].





In this study, a siRNA targeting human PTK7 mRNA was used for maximal





inhibition of PTK7 expression in order to probe the role of PTK7 in apoptosis and





proliferation. Knocking down PTK7 in HCT 116 cells inhibited cell proliferation and





induced apoptosis. Furthermore, this apoptosis was characterized by decreased





mitochondrial membrane potential and activation of caspase-9 and -10. Addition of a





caspase-10 inhibitor totally blocked this apoptosis, suggesting that caspase-10 may





play a critical role in PTK7-knockdown-induced apoptosis downstream of





mitochondria. Therefore, these observations may indicate a role for PTK7 in cell





proliferation and cell apoptosis.










MATERIALS AND METHODS





Materials. McCoy's 5A media were purchased from ATCC; fetal bovine serum





(FBS) (heat inactivated) was purchased from GIBCO, and penicillin-streptomycin





was purchased from Cellgro. Micro-FastTrack 2.0 Kit was purchased from Invitrogen.





5


A colorimetric bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) kit was from BD Pharmingen. IScript





One-Step RT-PCR Kit with SYBR Green was from Biorad. Protease inhibitor cocktail





(mixture of 4-(2-aminoethyl)benzenesulfonyl fluoride (AEBSF), E-64, bestatin,





leupeptin, aprotinin, and sodium EDTA) and 0.4% trypan blue were from Sigma. The





protein assay kit was from Bio-Rad. Antibodies against caspase-9 and P-actin were





from Cell Signaling Technology. Antibody against caspase-10 was from Millipore.





Antibody against PTK7 was from Abnova. Goat anti-mouse IgG HRP-conjugated





secondary antibody and goat anti-rabbit IgG HRP-conjugated secondary antibody





were purchased from Cell Signaling Technology. Vybrant Apoptosis Assay Kit #2, 4x





NuPAGE LDS sample buffer, 4-12% NuPAGE Bis-Tris gels, 20x NuPAGE MOPS





SDS running buffer, and 20x NuPAGE transfer buffer were from Invitrogen.





Immobilon-P transfer membrane was from Millipore. SuperSignal West Dura





Extended-Duration Substrate and Restore plus Western blot Stripping buffer were





from Thermo Scientific. X-ray films were from ISCBioExpress. JC-1





(5,5',6,6'-tetrachloro-l,r,3,3'- tetraethylbenzimidazolylcarbocyanine iodide) was





purchased from Anaspec. Caspase-9 inhibitor (Z-LEHD-FMK), caspase-3 inhibitor





(Z-DEVD-FMK), caspase-8 inhibitor (Z-IETD-FMK), caspase-family inhibitor





(Z-VAD-FMK), caspase-1 inhibitor (Z-YVAD-FMK), caspase-10 inhibitor





(Z-AEVD-FMK) and caspase-2 inhibitor (Z-VDVAD-FMK) were purchased from





BioVision. Caspase-10 Fluorometric Protease Assay Kit was from Millipore.





Cell Culture. HCT 116 (colon carcinoma) cells were obtained from ATCC





(Manassas, VA) and maintained in tissue culture at 37 C and 5% CO2. p53-null HCT




6


116 cells were provided by Dr. Bert Vogelstein (The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer





Center). Cells were cultured in McCoy's 5A medium supplemented with 10%) fetal





bovine serum (FBS) (heat inactivated) and 100 lU/mL penicillin-streptomycin.





RNA interference. HiPerFect transfection reagent, HP-validated siRNA specific





for PTK7, named PTK7 siRNA (sense: 5'- CGGGATGATGTCACTGGAGAA-3'),





and a nonspecific siRNA (AllStars Negative Control siRNA) were purchased from





Qiagen. HCT 116 cells were transfected with siRNA by HiPerFect transfection





reagent. On day 1, cells in exponential growth phase were harvested and suspended in





growth medium. Cells were divided into four groups and were treated with PTK7





siRNA, a nonspecific siRNA as negative control, HiPerFect vehicle only, or were left





untreated. For each transfection, a 500 |iL cell suspension was transfected with 25 nM





siRNA using 4 |iL transfection reagent in 24-well plates. Cells were kept in normal





culture conditions and collected 2, 3 or 4 days after transfection for analysis.





Flow Cytometric Analysis. After transfection with siRNAs as described above,





cells were trypsinized, washed twice in PBS, and counted using a hemocytometer.





Aliquots of 5x10^ cells were incubated with excess phycoerythring (PE)-labeled





anti-PTK7 in 200 ^L of binding buffer (PBS containing 5 mM MgCb, 4.5 mg/mL





glucose, 0.1 mg/mL yeast tRNA, 1 mg/mL BSA and 20% FBS) on ice for 30 min.





Cells were then washed twice with 1 mL of binding buffer and suspended in 0.3 mL





of binding buffer. The fluorescence was determined with a FACScan cytometer





(Becton Dickinson Immunocytometry Systems, San Jose, CA). PE-labeled anti-IgG





was used as a negative control.




7


Quantitative RT-PCR. Total mRNA from cells treated with various siRNAs was





extracted with Micro-FastTrack 2.0 Kit according to the manufacturer's instructions.





Real-time PCR was performed on mRNA (50 ng) with iScript One-Step RT-PCR Kit





using SYBR Green with a Biorad iCycler. All reactions were performed in a 50-|iL





volume in triplicate. Primers for human PTK7 were purchased from Qiagen





(QT00015568). PCR parameters were as follows: 50 C for 30 min, 5 min of Taq





activation at 95 C, followed by 45 cycles of PCR: 95 C x 30 s, 57 C x 60 s, and





72C X 60 s. The relative amount of target mRNA was normalized to GAPDH





mRNA. Specificity was verified by melting curve analysis. Means and standard errors





of at least three replicates of each experiment are calculated. Significance was





determined by t-test, a p value<0.05 indicated by an asterisk.





Cell Number detection by Trypan Blue Exclusion Assay. For four days after





treatment, cell suspensions were prepared by trypsinization, and cells were





resuspended in 1 mL media. To 25 f^L of the cell suspension, 25 [iL of 0.4%) trypan





blue was added, and cells were counted using a hemocytometer.





Proliferation Assay. Cell proliferation was studied using a colorimetric





bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) kit according to the manufacturer's instructions. First,





cells were transfected with siRNA. After 48 h of treatment, 10 |iM BrdU solution was





added to the medium. The medium was discarded after 2 h, and cells were fixed and





permeabilized with BD Cytofix/Cytoperm Buffer for 30 min at room temperature.





After removing Cytofix/Cytoperm Buffer, cells were incubated with 100 |iL of





diluted DNase (diluted to 300 [ig/mL in PBS) for 1 hour at 37C to expose




8


incorporated BrdU. Cells were then resuspended in 50 [j,L of BD Perm/Wash Buffer





containing diluted FITC-labeled anti-BrdU and incubated for 20 minutes at room





temperature. Finally, cells were incubated with 20 [iL of the 7-AAD solution.





Samples were analyzed by fiow cytometry. Means and standard errors of at least three





replicates of each experiment were calculated. Significance was determined by t-test;





a p value<0.05 is indicated by an asterisk.





Annexin V/Propidium Iodide Double-Staining Assay. Annexin V/propidium





iodide (PI) double-staining was performed using the Invitrogen Vybrant Apoptosis





Assay Kit #2. Cells were washed twice in ice-cold PBS buffer and centrifuged at 900





rpm for 3 min. The pellets were resuspended in binding buffer at a density of lO*"





cells/mL. A sample solution (100 [iL) was double-stained with 5 f^L Annexin V/Alexa





Fluor 488 and 2 f^L 100 [j,g/mL PI. After incubation at room temperature for 15 min,





400 i^L of binding buffer was added, and cells were analyzed by flow cytometry.





Western Blot Analyses. After HCT 116 cells were transfected with PTK7 siRNA





for 12 h, 24 h, 30 h, and 48 h, whole cells were harvested and washed twice with





ice-cold PBS. Then cells were lysed in radioimmunoprecipitation buffer (150 mM





NaCl, 1%) Triton X-100, 1% sodium deoxycholate, 0.1%) sodium dodecyl sulfate





(SDS), 50 mM Tris-HCl, pH 7.5, and 2 mM EDTA) in the presence of proteinase





inhibitor cocktail for 20 min on ice. Lysates were centrifuged at 14,000 rpm for 20





min at 4C, and the protein content in the supernatant was measured using the





Bio-Rad protein assay. Fifty micrograms of supernatant proteins were mixed with 4x





NuPAGE LDS sample buffer and heated at 70C for 10 min. The proteins were




9


separated on 4-12% NuPAGE Bis-Tris gels with Ix NuPAGE MOPS SDS running





buffer and then electrotransferred onto a PVDF transfer membrane with NuPAGE





transfer buffer at 50 V for 1 h. The membranes were blocked with 5% nonfat dry milk





in PBS buffer containing 0.2% Tween 20 (PBST) for 2 h at room temperature. The





membranes were probed with primary antibodies in PBST containing 5% nonfat dry





milk overnight at 4C. After three successive washings with PBST for 10 min, the





membranes were incubated with horseradish peroxidase-conjugated goat anti-mouse





IgG antibody or goat anti-rabbit IgG antibody in PBST containing 5% nonfat dry milk





for 1 h at room temperature. After three successive washings with PBST for 10 min,





the proteins signals were developed with a SuperSignal West Dura Extended Duration





Substrate kit and transferred from the membrane to X-ray films. Protein loading was





normalized by probing the same membrane with anti-actin antibody. For P-actin





detection, previously used membranes were soaked in Restore Plus Western Blot





Stripping Buffer at room temperature for 30 min and hybridized with anti-P actin.





Measurement of Mitochondrial Membrane Potential. Dye JC-1





(5,5',6,6'-tetrachloro-l,r,3,3'- tetraethylbenzimidazolylcarbocyanine iodide) was used





to determine mitochondrial membrane potential (A*Fm), the loss of which is regarded





as a crucial step in the apoptosis pathway. HCT 116 cells were transfected with





siRNA for 48 h or 72 h, after which the cells were washed with cold PBS and stained





by incubating with 2 |iM JC-1 for 20 min at 37C. Then, the mitochondrial membrane





potential was detected by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry at 590 nm.










10


Caspase-10 Activity Measurement. Caspase-10 activity was measured using the





Caspase-10 Fluorometic Protease Assay Kit. Briefly, cells were transfected with





PTK7 siRNA, and after 24 h or 48 h cells were harvested. Two million cells were





resuspended in chilled lysis buffer and incubated on ice for 10 min. Then, 50 |iL of 2x





Reaction Buffer and 5 |iL of the 1 mM AEVD-AFC substrate (50 |iM flnal





concentration) were added to each sample. After incubation at 37C for 2 h, samples





were analyzed using a microplate reader equipped with a 400 nm excitation filter and





a 505 nm emission filter. Means and standard errors of at least three replicates of each





experiment were calculated. Significance was determined by t-test, a p value<0.05 is





indicated by an asterisk.










RESULTS





Inhibition of PTK7 expression by PTK7 siRNA. Expression of PTK7 in HCT





116, human colon carcinoma cells, was investigated by flow cytometry (Fig. lA,





untreated) and Western blot (Fig. IB, 0 h). Comparing the fluorescence signal of





PE-labeled anti-PTK7 to PE-labeled anti-mouse IgG clearly shows that PTK7 is





expressed in HCT 116 cells.





Expression of PTK7 was knocked down using PTK7-targeted siRNA and the flow





cytometry results for the targeted cells were compared to those exposed to vehicle





only, nonspecific siRNA or untreated, as shown in Fig. 1 A. After 48 hours, the peak





of anti-PTK7-PE in HCT 116 transfected with PTK7 siRNA shifted back to the peak





of the background control protein, anti-IgG-PE, indicating that the PTK7 expression





11


level in HCT 116 cells transfected with PTK7 siRNA greatly decreased. At the same





time, there was no corresponding shift in the control siRNA or vehicle-treated groups,





indicating that neither the HiPerFect transfection reagent nor the nonspecific siRNA





affected PTK7 expression. When PTK7 expression was probed after 12 h, 24 h, 30 h





and 48 h of transfection using Western blot (Fig. IB), the results clearly showed that





the level of PTK7 expression decreased after 48 h of transfection. In addition, total





mRNA was extracted from the untreated, vehicle, nonspecific siRNA, and PTK7





siRNA groups. As shown in Fig. IC, PTK7 siRNA induced 75-80%) reduction of





PTK7 mRNA in HCT 116 cells. These results indicated that both PTK7 protein and





mRNA expression levels were greatly decreased by PTK7 siRNA. This proved the





function and efficiency of PTK7 siRNA and provided a solid basis for our study of





PTK7's functional role.





Viability and proliferation of PTK7 siRNA-treated HCT 116 cells. The effect of





PTK7 suppression on the viability of HCT 116 cells was investigated by counting the





total number of live cells every day after transfection. As shown in Fig. 2A, the





number of live HCT 116 cells transfected with PTK7 siRNA was shown to be





significantly different from that of untreated groups on day 4. This finding





demonstrated a significant inhibition of cell viability in the HCT 116 cells treated





with PTK7 siRNA. To confirm that the decrease of cell viability resulted from





suppression of PTK7, the same assays were carried out with HCT 116 cells





transfected with nonspecific siRNA or treated only with vehicle. The results showed





that the PTK7 siRNA-treated sample contained the smallest number of cells.




12


Although vehicle-treated and nonspecific siRNA-treated cells had smaller cell





numbers than untreated cells, there were significantly fewer cells in the PTK7





siRNA-treated sample.





To ascertain the effect of suppression of PTK7 on HCT 116 cell proliferation, a





BrdU incorporation experiment was performed to measure DNA synthesis. After 48 h





of transfection, cells were seeded in 24-well culture plates and were incubated with 10





|iM BrdU for 2 h. Cells were then fixed, and BrdU incorporation was detected using a





FITC-labeled anti-BrdU antibody (Fig. 2B). Silencing of PTK7 significantly inhibited





BrdU incorporation in HCT 116 cells, suggesting a direct effect of PTK7 protein on





HCT 116 cell proliferation.





Increase of apoptosis of PTK7 siRNA-treated HCT 116 cells. An Annexin V/PI





staining experiment was carried out to study the possibility that knocking down PTK7





could affect the apoptosis of HCT 116 cells. Phosphatidylserine (PS) is located in the





inner leaflet of the cell membrane in healthy cells. During apoptosis, PS becomes





translocated to the outer surface of the cell membrane, and Annexin V/PI assay





detects the PS on the outer surface. The results in Figure 2C show that the PTK7





siRNA group showed significant increase in apoptotic cells on day 4 compared with





untreated, vehicle, and nonspecific siRNA control groups.





Changes in mitochondrial membrane potential and activation of caspase-9 in





HCT 116 cells treated with PTK7 siRNA. To study the mechanism through which





knocking down PTK7 induces apoptosis in HCT 116 cells, the effect of knocking





down PTK7 on mitochondrial membrane potential (A*Fm) was determined by




13


fluorescence microscopy (Fig. 3A) and flow cytometry (Fig. 3B). Dye JC-1 was used





as an indicator. In healthy cells, polarized mitochondria have a negative charge, which





allows JC-1 dye with delocalized positive charge to enter the mitochondrial matrix





and accumulate there. When the critical concentration is exceeded, JC-1 forms





J-aggregates, and the cells become fluorescent red (FL2). In apoptotic cells, the





mitochondrial membrane potential collapses, and JC-1 cannot accumulate within the





mitochondria. In these apoptotic cells, JC-1 remains in the cytoplasm in a green





fluorescent monomeric form (FLl). After HCT 116 cells were transfected with siRNA





or control as described above and incubated for 48 h or 72 h, the decrease of A*Fm in





HCT 116 cells transfected with PTK7 siRNA was observed. After 72 h of





transfection, the percentage of cells with polarized mitochondria was 90%), 87%) and





88%) for cells in the untreated, vehicle and nonspecific siRNA groups, respectively.





However, only 35%) of total cells in the PTK7 siRNA group had polarized





mitochondria. This trend was seen even at 48 h when only 58%) cells had polarized





mitochondria. These data suggested that mitochondrial dysfunction was involved in





the apoptosis induced by PTK7 knockdown.





A variety of signalling pathways may be involved in apoptosis, and the





mitochondria play a major role. Mitochondrial dysfunction causes the release of





cytochrome c, which activates caspase-9, in turn fueling apoptosis. Caspase-9





activation was detected by Western blot after HCT 116 cells were transfected with





PTK7 siRNA and cultured for 12 h, 24 h, 30 h, and 48 h, respectively. As shown in










14


Figure 3C, caspase-9 was activated and involved in the apoptosis induced by PTK7





knockdown.





Role of caspase-10 in PTK7-knockdown-induced apoptosis. To determine





whether caspases mediate the apoptosis induced by knock down of PTK7, cells were





pretreated with a pancaspase inhibitor or one of several single-caspase-speciflc





inhibitors. Rescue of the cells from apoptosis would mean that the inhibited caspase





was implicated in PTK7-deflcient cell death. After pre-incubation of the HCT 116





cells with 20 |iM pancaspase-family inhibitor at 37C for 3 h, the cells were





transfected with siRNA for 48 h. After incubation for 48 h, cell viability was tested





using Annexin V/PI (Fig. 4A). Cells pre-incubated with pancaspase-family inhibitor





showed good cell viability (8013%)) after transfection with PTK7 siRNA, within





uncertainty of the cell viability of the nonspecific siRNA group (837.5%)).





Meanwhile, cells directly transfected with PTK7 siRNA had significantly lower cell





viability (3612%)). Pancaspase-family inhibitor blocked caspase activity and also





blocked apoptosis induced by knock down of PTK7, indicating that the apoptosis





induced by knock down of PTK7 is caspase-dependent.





To investigate which caspase plays the critical role in this apoptosis, HCT 116 cells





were pre-treated with caspase-9 inhibitor (Z-LEHD-FMK), caspase-3 inhibitor





(Z-DEVD-FMK), caspase-8 inhibitor (Z-IETD-FMK), caspase-family inhibitor





(Z-VAD-FMK), caspase-1 inhibitor (Z-YVAD-FMK), caspase-10 inhibitor





(Z-AEVD-FMK), caspase-2 inhibitor (Z-VDVAD-FMK), or DMSO vehicle at 37C





for 3 h, followed by transfection with PTK7 siRNA. After incubation for 48 h, cell





15


viability was tested by Annexin V/PI using flow cytometry. As shown in Fig. 4B,





inhibition of caspase-10 blocked apoptosis, with 793%) of cells viable. This meant





that caspse-10 may play a critical role in the apoptotic pathway induced by knock





down of PTK7.





To confirm the activation of caspase-10 in apoptosis induced by PTK7 knockdown,





procaspase-10 protein levels in cell lysates transfected with PTK7 siRNA were





examined using Western blot (Fig. 5A). Procaspase-10 decreased after 12 h of





transfection and increased after 30 h of transfection. Also, as the linkage between the





intrinsic pathway and the extrinsic pathway, the cleavage of Bid to tBid was





investigated, and there was no obvious tBid, indicating that there was no signal





transfer from the extrinsic pathway to the intrinsic pathway. In another experiment,





PTK7 expression in HCT 116 was initially suppressed using PTK7 siRNA, resulting





in apoptosis in these cells. The ability of cell lysates to cleave the peptide substrates





(Ac-AEVD-AFC) was tested as an indicator of caspase-10 activity. The results in





figure 5B show significant increase in caspase 10 activity in cells treated with PTK7





siRNA.





Protein p53 involvement in PTK7-knockdown-induced apoptosis. Protein p53





has been proved as a tumor suppressor protein in humans[31], and HCT 116 cells





express wide-type p53.[32,33] In order to study the involvement of p53 in the





apoptosis induced by PTK7 knockdown, p53-null HCT 116 was used as the second





cell line to carry out PTK7 knockdown and other related experiments. First, the PTK7





expression level without/with siRNA treatment was monitored by flow cytometry (Fig.





16


6A). The p53-null HCT 116 cells express a high amount of PTK7 on the cell





membrane, but after 48 hours of PTK7 siRNA transfection, the peak for





anti-PTK7-PE in p53-null HCT 116 shifted back to the peak of the background





control protein, anti-IgG-PE. This indicated that the PTK7 expression level in





p53-null HCT 116 cells transfected with PTK7 siRNA was greatly decreased. Next,





the number of live p53-null HCT 116 cells transfected with PTK7 siRNA was shown





to be significantly different from that of untreated groups on day 4, demonstrating a





significant inhibition of cell viability in p53-null HCT 116 cells by treating with





PTK7 siRNA (Fig. 6B). And in a BrdU incorporation experiment, silencing of PTK7





significantly inhibited BrdU incorporation in p53-null HCT 116 cells, suggesting a





direct effect of PTK7 protein on cell proliferation (Fig. 6C). On the other hand, the





Annexin V/PI staining experiment showed that the PTK7 siRNA-treated p53-null





HCT 116 showed significant increase in apoptotic and dead cells on day 4 compared





with untreated, vehicle, and nonspecific siRNA control groups.





The apoptosis induced by PTK7 knockdown has been proved to be caspase-10





dependent in wild type HCT 116. So the apoptosis pathway in p53-null HCT 116





induced by PTK7 knockdown was further investigated. JC-1 experiment was





monitored by both fluorescence microscopy (Fig. 7A) and flow cytometry (Fig. 7B).





Clearly, mitochondrial membrane potential decreased in p53-null HCT 116 cells





treated with PTK7 siRNA. At the same time, a caspase inhibitor experiment was





carried out using p53-null HCT 116 cells. As shown in Fig. 7C, pancaspase inhibitor





or caspase-10 inhibitor treatment inhibited the apoptosis induced by PTK7




17


knockdown compared to all other inhibitors, which indicated the apoptosis in p53-null





HCT 116 cells induced by PTK7 knockdown was caspased-10 dependent.










DISCUSSION





The present work demonstrates that RNAi suppression of PTK7 induces





caspase-10-dependent apoptosis in both wild type and p53-null HCT 116 cells. Small





interfering RNA is a very popular reverse genetics tool, which inhibits gene





expression through sequence-specific degradation of target mRNA. This study





showed that siRNA efficiently suppressed PTK7 expression at the level of both





mRNA and protein. A nonspecific siRNA was used as a negative control to confirm





that suppression of PTK7 was the result of the specific silencing effect of PTK7





siRNA.





After confirming suppression of PTK7 by siRNA, we then considered whether the





inhibition of PTK7 would affect cell viability and proliferation. Trypan Blue





Exclusion Assay showed that the number of live HCT 116 cells transfected with





PTK7 siRNA was remarkably less than that of the control groups on day 4. Compared





to nonspecific siRNA group as negative control, it was clear that suppression of PTK7





accounted for the inhibition of cell viability. To assess the effect of PTK7 knockdown





on HCT 116 cell proliferation, a BrdU incorporation experiment was performed to





measure DNA synthesis. Interestingly, PTK7 silencing significantly inhibited BrdU





incorporation in HCT 116 cells, indicating that knock down of PTK7 expression had a





direct effect on HCT 116 cell growth. In fact, PTK7 has been identified as a gene




18


expressed in primary colon carcinoma, and overexpression of PTK7 is often found in





colon carcinoma cells. Furthermore, knock down of PTK7 induced HCT 116 cell





apoptosis, verified through Annexin V/PI stain. After knock down of PTK7, ratios of





apoptotic HCT 116 cells revealed by Annexin V/PI stain showed a large increase of





percentage of apoptotic HCT 116 cells. These results provide evidence that





suppression of PTK7 can significantly increase the occurrence of apoptosis in HCT





116 cells, and that an excess of PTK7 can be associated with resistance of cancer cells





to induction of cell death.





The results further demonstrated that knock down of PTK7 caused a large decrease





in mitochondrial membrane potential of HCT 116 cells, suggesting that mitochondrial





dysfunction may be involved in this apoptosis, and that the mitochondrial pathway to





cell death may play an important role in apoptosis induced by knock down of PTK7.





Caspase-9 was also activated after PTK7 siRNA treatment in HCT 116 cells. At the





same time, apoptosis inhibition experiments showed that caspase-10 also plays a





critical role in apoptosis induced by knock down of PTK7 in HCT 116 cells.





Interestingly, caspase-8 inhibitor had no effect on this apoptosis at all, even though it





has always been thought that caspase-8 and caspase-10 play identical roles in the





extrinsic pathway to cell death. Western blot was used to examine the procaspase-8,





-10 and active caspase-8 levels in PTK7 siRNA-treated HCT 116 cells. Procaspase-10





level changes were obvious, but active caspase-8 was not detectable (data not shown).





Additionally, Bid/t-Bid level changes were examined, and no t-Bid was found (Fig.





5A) indicating that there was no signal transfer from the extrinsic pathway to the




19


intrinsic pathway. Thus, the extrinsic pathway was not involved as reported by





FilomenkoP. etal.[20].





Furthermore, p53-null HCT 116 cells were used to study the involvement of p53 in





the apoptosis induced by PTK7 knockdown. When treated with PTK7 siRNA, cell





proliferation decreased and apoptosis increased in p53-null HCT 116 cells. Also,





mitochondria were involved in the apoptosis, which was caspase-10 dependent. When





comparing the results between wild type HCT 116 and p53-null HCT 116, PTK7





knockdown had less effect on cell proliferation and apoptosis in p53-null HCT 116





cells, but the apoptosis induced by PTK7 knockdown was caspase-10 dependent in





both cell lines. Therefore, the effect of PTK7 knockdown on cell apoptosis was p53





related but not dependent.





Altogether, the results show that the knock down of PTK7 in wild type HCT 116





cells and p53-null HCT 116 cells induces cell apoptosis and affects cell proliferation.





Also, caspase-10 activation plays a critical role in the caspase cascade, downstream of





mitochondria after knock down of PTK7.










CONCLUSION





In conclusion, suppression of PTK7 significantly increases apoptosis and inhibits





cell proliferation in HCT 116 cells, indicating that PTK7 may play an important role





in maintaining cancer cell viability. Apoptosis induced by knock down of PTK7 was





caspase-10-dependent, and caspase-10 activation was downstream of mitochondria.










20


Therefore, the use of PTK7 siRNA, or other methods that counteract PTK7 function,





may be valuable in the development of cancer therapeutic agents.












ACKNOWLEDGMENT






We thank Dr. Bert Vogelstein for the gift of p53-null HCT 116 cells and Dr.





Kathryn R. Williams for help with the manuscript. Publication of this article was





funded in part by the University of Florida Open-Access publishing Fund.
21


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24


FIGURE LEGENDS






Figure 1. PTK7 expression in HCT 116 cells after treatment with vehicle, nonspecific





siRNA and PTK7 siRNA. (A) Flow cytometry assay for the binding of the PE-labeled





anti-PTK7 with HCT 116 cells (Grey curves). The black curves represent the





background binding of anti-IgG-PE. The concentration of the antibody in the binding





buffer was 2 |ig/|iL. (B) Western blot analysis of PTK7 in HCT 116 cells transfected





by PTK7 siRNAs. The membrane was stripped and reprobed by P-actin antibody as a





loading control. (C) Suppression of PTK7 mRNA expression in HCT 116 cells by





PTK7 siRNAs. Cells were harvested after 48 h of treatment. RT-PCR was performed





using gene-speciflc primers. The amount of PTK7 mRNA expression was normalized





to the untreated group. Data are means.d. of three independent experiments.





*Student's t-test: P<0.05.






Figure 2. Cell viability in HCT 116 cells after treatment with vehicle, nonspecific





siRNA and PTK7 siRNA. Data are means.d. of three independent experiments. (A)





The number of live cells was counted daily for 4 days using Trypan blue. (B) BrdU





incorporation relative to untreated cells detected by flow cytometry. Cells were





incubated with 10 |iM BrdU for 2 h after 48 h of treatment. The amount of BrdU





incorporation was normalized to the untreated group. Data are means.d. of three





independent experiments. Student's t-test: P<0.05. (C) Apoptosis occurrence in HCT





116 cells detected by Annexin V/PI stain on days 1-4 after transfection. Cells stained





negative for both Annexin V and PI were considered healthy.






25


Figure 3. Involvement of mitochondrial pathway in apoptosis induced by PTK7





scilencing. (A) Fluorescence microscope detection of mitochondrial membrane





potential in treated HCT 116 cells. (B) Flow cytometry detection of mitochondrial





membrane potential in treated HCT 116 cells. (C) Activation of caspase-9 involved in





apoptosis induced by knocking down PTK7. The membrane was stripped and





reprobed by P-actin antibody, as a loading control.






Figure 4. Cell viability after incubation with caspase inhibitors prior to transfaction of





PTK7 siRNA. (A) Apoptosis induced by knocking down PTK7 was





caspase-dependent. Data are means.d. of three independent experiments. *Student's





t-test: P<0.05. (B) Caspase-10 inhibitor totally blocked the apoptosis induced by





knock down of PTK7. Data: means.d. of three independent experiments, *Student's





t-test: P<0.05.






Figure 5. The activation of caspase-10 in apoptosis induced by knocking down of





PTK7. (A) Western blot analysis of procaspase-10 and Bid in HCT 116 cells





transfected by PTK7 siRNAs. The membrane was stripped and reprobed by P-actin





antibody, as a loading control. (B) Caspase-10 activity in HCT 116 cells: untreated





and treated with vehicle, nonspecific siRNA and siRNA. Results were given as ratios





to caspase-10 activity in untreated cells. Data are means.d. of three independent





experiments. Student's t-test: P<0.05.






Figure 6. PTK7 expression and cell apoptosis induced by knocking down of PTK7 in





p53-null HCT 116 cells. (A) Flow cytometry assay for the binding of the PE-labeled





26


anti-PTK7 with p53-null HCT 116 cells (Grey curves). The black curves represent the





background binding of anti-IgG-PE. The concentration of the antibody in the binding





buffer was 2 |ig/|iL. (B) The number of live p53-null HCT 116 cells was counted on





day 4 after treatment with vehicle, nonspecific siRNA and PTK7 siRNA. Data are





means.d. of three independent experiments. *Student's t-test: P<0.05. (C) BrdU





incorporation relative to untreated cells detected by flow cytometry. p53-null HCT





116 Cells were incubated with 10 |iM BrdU for 2 h after 48 h of treatment. The





amount of BrdU incorporation was normalized to the untreated group. Data are





means.d. of three independent experiments. *Student's t-test: P<0.05. (D) Apoptosis





occurrence in p53-null HCT 116 cells detected by Annexin V/PI stain on days 4 after





transfection. Cells stained negative for both Annexin V and PI were considered





healthy and percentage was shown in the figure.






Figure 7. Mitochondria and caspase-10 involvement in the apoptosis induced by





knocking down of PTK7 in p53-null HCT 116 cells. (A) Fluorescence microscope





detection of mitochondrial membrane potential in treated p53-null HCT 116 cells. (B)





Flow cytometry detection of mitochondrial membrane potential in treated p53-null





HCT 116 cells. (C) Cell viability after incubation with caspase inhibitors prior to





transfaction of PTK7 siRNA. Caspase-10 inhibitor totally blocked the apoptosis





induced by knock down of PTK7. Data: means.d. of three independent experiments,





*Student's t-test: P<0.05.


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