Direct binding of glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase to telomeric DNA protects telomeres against chemotherapy-induced rapid degradation

J Mol Biol. 2009 Dec 11;394(4):789-803. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2009.09.062. Epub 2009 Oct 2.


Glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) is a glycolytic enzyme that displays several non-glycolytic activities, including the maintenance and/or protection of telomeres. In this study, we determined the molecular mechanism and biological role of the interaction between GAPDH and human telomeric DNA. Using gel-shift assays, we show that recombinant GAPDH binds directly with high affinity (K(d)=45 nM) to a single-stranded oligonucleotide comprising three telomeric DNA repeats, and that nucleotides T1, G5, and G6 of the TTAGGG repeat are essential for binding. The stoichiometry of the interaction is 2:1 (DNA:GAPDH), and GAPDH appears to form a high-molecular-weight complex when bound to the oligonucleotide. Mutation of Asp32 and Cys149, which are localized to the NAD-binding site and the active-site center of GAPDH, respectively, produced mutants that almost completely lost their telomere-binding functions both in vitro and in situ (in A549 human lung cancer cells). Treatment of A549 cells with the chemotherapeutic agents gemcitabine and doxorubicin resulted in increased nuclear localization of expressed wild-type GAPDH, where it protected telomeres against rapid degradation, concomitant with increased resistance to the growth-inhibitory effects of these drugs. The non-DNA-binding mutants of GAPDH also localized to the nucleus when expressed in A549 cells, but did not confer any significant protection of telomeres against chemotherapy-induced degradation or growth inhibition; this occurred without the involvement of caspase activation or apoptosis regulation. Overall, these data demonstrate that GAPDH binds telomeric DNA directly in vitro and may have a biological role in the protection of telomeres against rapid degradation in response to chemotherapeutic agents in A549 human lung cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution / genetics
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / metabolism*
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Deoxycytidine / pharmacology
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology
  • Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay
  • Gemcitabine
  • Glyceraldehyde 3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (NADP+) / genetics
  • Glyceraldehyde 3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (NADP+) / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Protein Binding
  • Telomere / metabolism*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Deoxycytidine
  • Doxorubicin
  • Glyceraldehyde 3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (NADP+)
  • Gemcitabine