Downregulation of the PHLDA1 gene in IMR-32 neuroblastoma cells increases levels of Aurora A, TRKB and affects proteins involved in apoptosis and autophagy pathways

We have recently shown that mRNA and protein of PHLDA1 (pleckstrin-homology-like domain family A, member 1) were by far the most upregulated molecules upon treatment of IMR-32 cells with the anti-GD2 ganglioside monoclonal antibody 14G2a. Hence, we decided to study functions of PHLDA1 using human neuroblastoma IMR-32 cells as a model. Here, we show that constitutive expression of mRNA and protein of the PHLDA1 gene in IMR-32 cells was inversely correlated with transcript of the AURKA gene and Aurora A oncoprotein. Next, we silenced PHLDA1 expression in IMR-32 cells using an shRNA interference method. We report that IMR-32 cells with stable downregulation of PHLDA1 showed enhanced cellular ATP levels and an increase in mitochondrial membrane potential, as compared to control and non-transduced cells. We demonstrated that downregulation of PHLDA1 leads to a significant increase in expression of Aurora A and TRKB that are markers of poor prognosis in neuroblastoma. Also, we measured an increase in Aurora A and Akt kinases phosphorylation in the cells. Most importantly, PHLDA1-silenced cells were less susceptible to apoptosis than control cells, as shown by the lower expression of cleaved caspase-3 and PARP as well as a decreased activity of caspase-3 and -7. Our study negatively correlates expression of PHLDA1 and Aurora A in IMR-32 cells and sheds new light on functions of PHLDA1 in the neuroblastoma tumor cells, suggesting its role as a pro-apoptotic protein. Additionally, our results show possible links of the protein to regulation of features of mitochondria and formation of autophagosomes.

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