Tumour biology : the journal of the International Society for Oncodevelopmental Biology and Medicine

Silencing survivin activates autophagy as an alternative survival pathway in HCC cells.

PMID 25008566


Autophagy is a survival mechanism that is activated in response to nutrient deprivation. The link between aberrant autophagy and cancer has been increasingly recognized. Survivin, an anti-apoptotic molecule, and the autophagy pathway are correlated with therapeutic responses to cancer. However, the role of autophagy in cancer progression remains unclear. Here, we generated survivin knockdown cells (survivin-KD) by introducing a short interfering RNA (siRNA) into hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells, and we observed a 20 % reduction in the survival of these survivin-KD cells, as determined by MTT assay. In addition, an increased number of stress granules, increased positive staining by acridine orange and a shift in the high side scatter (SSC) cell population in flow cytometry analysis were observed in survivin-KD cells. Furthermore, electron microscopy revealed an increased number of autophagosomes in survivin-KD cells compared with scrambled control cells. Finally, we treated cells with an autophagy inhibitor, 3-MA, and observed a decrease in cell survival in survivin-KD cells compared with scrambled control cells. Our study suggests that an autophagy signal may be activated after the anti-apoptotic molecule survivin is suppressed. This finding implies that autophagy may be an alternative survival pathway in HCC cells and may provide a basis for the development of new therapeutic strategies for HCC.