The HMGA2 (high-mobility group AT-hook) protein has previously been shown as an oncoprotein, whereas ectopic expression of HMGA2 is found to induce growth arrest in primary cells. The precise mechanisms underlying this phenomenon remain to be unravelled. In the present study, we determined that HMGA2 was able to induce apoptosis in WI38 primary human cells. We show that WI38 cells expressing high level of HMGA2 were arrested at G2/M phase and exhibited apoptotic nuclear phenotypes. Meanwhile, the cleaved caspase 3 (cysteine aspartic acid-specific protease 3) was detected 8 days after HMGA2 overexpression. Flow cytometric analysis confirmed that the ratio of cells undergoing apoptosis increased dramatically. Concurrently, other major apoptotic markers were also detected, including the up-regulation of p53, Bax and cleaved caspase 9, down-regulation of Bcl-2; as well as release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria. We further demonstrate that the shRNA (small-hairpin RNA)-mediated Apaf1 (apoptotic protease activating factor 1) silencing partially rescued the HMGA2-induced apoptosis, which was accompanied by the decrease of cleaved caspase-3 level and a decline of cell death ratio. Our results also reveal that γH2A was accumulated in nuclei during the HMGA2-induced apoptosis along with the up-regulation of cleaved caspase 2, suggesting that the HMGA2-induced apoptosis was dependent on the pathway of DNA damage. Overall, the present study unravelled a novel function of HMGA2 in induction of apoptosis in human primary cell lines, and provided clues for clarification of the mechanistic action of HMGA2 in addition to its function as an oncoprotein.
Shi, X., Tian, B., Ma, W., Zhang, N., Qiao, Y., Li, X., … Lu, J. (2014). A novel anti-proliferative role of HMGA2 in induction of apoptosis through caspase 2 in primary human fibroblast cells. Bioscience Reports, 35(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1042/bsr20140112