Down-regulation of Mcl-1 by small interference RNA induces apoptosis and sensitizes HL-60 leukemia cells to etoposide.
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Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a fatal hematological malignancy which is resistant to a variety of chemotherapy drugs. Myeloid cell leukemia-1 (Mcl-1), a death-inhibiting protein that regulates apoptosis, has been shown to be overexpressed in numerous malignancies. In addition, it has been demonstrated that the expression level of the Mcl-1 gene increases at the time of leukemic relapse following chemotherapy. The aim of this study was to target Mcl-1 by small interference RNA (siRNA) and analyze its effects on survival and chemosensitivity of acute myeloid leukemia cell line HL-60.siRNA transfection was performed with a liposome approach. The expression levels of mRNA and protein were measured by real-time quantitative PCR and Western blot analysis, respectively. Trypan blue assays were performed to evaluate tumor cell growth after siRNA transfection. The cytotoxic effects of Mcl-1 siRNA (siMcl-1) and etoposide were determined using MTT assay on their own and in combination. Apoptosis was quantified using a DNA-histone ELISA assay.Transfection with siMcl-1 significantly suppressed the expression of Mcl-1 mRNA and protein in a time- dependent manner, resulting in strong growth inhibition and spontaneous apoptosis. Surprisingly, pretreatment with siMcl-1 synergistically enhanced the cytotoxic effect of etoposide. Furthermore, Mcl-1 down-regulation significantly increased apoptosis sensitivity to etoposide. No significant biological effects were observed with negative control siRNA treatment.Our results suggest that specific suppression of Mcl-1 by siRNA can effectively induce apoptosis and overcome chemoresistance of leukemic cells. Therefore, siMcl-1 may be a potent adjuvant in leukemia chemotherapy.