Identification of XAF1 as a novel cell cycle regulator through modulating G(2)/M checkpoint and interaction with checkpoint kinase 1 in gastrointestinal cancer

Carcinogenesis. 2009 Sep;30(9):1507-16. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgp155. Epub 2009 Jul 23.


Background and aims: X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis-associated factor 1 (XAF1) was first recognized as an antagonist of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis in suppressing caspase 3 activity. It has lower expression in cancer cells than normal tissue. Overexpression of XAF1 can inhibit cancer cell growth and sensitize tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand- or etoposide-induced apoptosis. The aim of this study is to elucidate the mechanism of XAF1 in regulating cell growth.

Methods: Stable transfectants of gastrointestinal (GI) cancer cell lines AGS and SW1116 expressing XAF1 and vector control were generated. Cell growth, apoptosis, mitotic status and cell cycle distribution were assessed. The interaction between XAF1 and G(2)/M checkpoint proteins was evaluated by immunoblotting, kinase assay and co-immunoprecipitation assay. Mitotic catastrophe was identified by occurrence of aberrant nuclei and centrosomal amplification.

Results: Our results showed that overexpression of XAF1 suppressed serum-dependent cancer cell growth, induced mitotic catastrophe and G(2)/M cell cycle arrest. Interestingly, XAF1 was predominantly expressed in G(2)/M phase after cell cycle synchronization. XAF1 interacted with and activated checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1), inactivated Cdc25C and lead to inactivation of Cdc2-cyclin B complex. Suppression of Chk1 abrogated XAF1-induced G(2)/M arrest.

Conclusions: Our findings implicate XAF1 as a novel cell cycle modulator that is recruited in G(2)/M phase and thus unravel a novel function pathway of XAF1, suggesting the potential role of XAF1 as the target for the management of GI cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • CDC2 Protein Kinase
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Checkpoint Kinase 1
  • Cyclin B / physiology
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases
  • DNA Damage
  • G2 Phase
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Mitosis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / physiology*
  • Protein Kinases / physiology*


  • Cyclin B
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • XAF1 protein, human
  • Protein Kinases
  • CHEK1 protein, human
  • Checkpoint Kinase 1
  • CDC2 Protein Kinase
  • CDK1 protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases
  • Caspase 3