The Twist-1 transcription factor and its interacting protein Akirin-2 regulate apoptosis. We found that in glioblastomas, highly malignant brain tumors, Akirin-2 and Twist-1 were expressed in glial fibrillary acidic protein positive tumor regions as well as in tumor endothelial cells and infiltrating macrophages / microglia. Temozolomide (TMZ) induced the expression of both molecules, partly shifting their nuclear to cytosolic localization. The knock-down (kd) of Akirin-2 increased the activity of cleaved (c)Caspase-3/-7, the amounts of cCaspases-3, -7 and cPARP-1 and resulted in an increased number of apoptotic cells after TMZ exposure. Glioblastoma cells containing decreased amounts of Akirin-2 after kd contained increased amounts of cCaspase-3 as determined by the ImageStreamx Mark II technology. For Twist-1, similar results were obtained with the exception that the combination of TMZ treatment and Twist-1 kd failed to significantly reduce chemoresistance compared with controls. This could be attributed to a cell population containing only slightly increased cCaspase-3 together with decreased Twist-1 levels, which was clearly larger than the respective population observed under Akirin-2 kd. Our results showed that, compared with Twist-1, Akirin-2 is the more promising target for RNAi strategies antagonizing Twist-1/Akirin-2 facilitated glioblastoma cell survival.
Keywords: Akirin-2; Twist-1; chemoresistance; glioblastoma.