Purpose: The protein p27 is an important regulator of cell cycle. An increase in p27 causes proliferation of cells, while a decrease in p27 induces quiescence of cells. p27 is regulated by transcriptional, translational and proteolytic mechanisms. Among them, an importnant mechanism in the regulation of p27 is proteolysis. Kinase interacting with stathmin, KIS, is a serine / threonine kinase, and regulates cell cycle progression through the phosphorylation of p27 on serine 10. The S10 phosphorylation on p27 plays an important role in p27 degradation. KIS that phosphorylates p27 on S10 and its role in the regulation of cell cycle progression have not been defined in leukemia cells. In this study, we investigated the role of KIS in leukemia cells.

Materials and Methods: We examined the biological significance of KIS expression in K562, NB4, U937, CEM, MOLT4, and SUP-B15 leukemia cells and relationship with the G1 regulaters, such as p27. Moreover, we generated the lentivirus vector inserted with the dsDNA of KIS small interfering RNA (siRNA), and effects of down-regulation of KIS by siRNA transfection were investigated in leukemia cells.

Results: RT-PCR and western blot analysis showed high KIS expression in all leukemia cells. The p27 phosphorylation on S10 was significantly lower in the leukemia cells transduced with KIS siRNA and depletion of KIS enhanced growth arrest. The down-regulation of KIS induced G1 arrest in cell cycle, but not apoptosis. In cell cycle analysis, control leukemia cells showed 42.3 ± 1.8 %, but leukemia cells transfected with KIS siRNA showed 67,1 ± 2.1 % in G1 fraction. Moreover, these cells significantly showed small population in S ansd G2 fractions compared compared with controls.

Conclusion: These findings suggest KIS expression promotes cell cycle progression in leukemia cells. Depletion of KIS using siRNA in leukemia cells induced cell cycle arrest in G1 phase compared with control cells. In this study, we showed that KIS might be the target for the molecular therapy.

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