Archives of dermatological research

Silencing the KCNK9 potassium channel (TASK-3) gene disturbs mitochondrial function, causes mitochondrial depolarization, and induces apoptosis of human melanoma cells.

PMID 25318378


TASK-3 (KCNK9 or K2P9.1) channels are thought to promote proliferation and/or survival of malignantly transformed cells, most likely by increasing their hypoxia tolerance. Based on our previous results that suggested mitochondrial expression of TASK-3 channels, we hypothesized that TASK-3 channels have roles in maintaining mitochondrial activity. In the present work we studied the effect of reduced TASK-3 expression on the mitochondrial function and survival of WM35 and A2058 melanoma cells. TASK-3 knockdown cells had depolarized mitochondrial membrane potential and contained a reduced amount of mitochondrial DNA. Compared to their scrambled shRNA-transfected counterparts, they demonstrated diminished responsiveness to the application of the mitochondrial uncoupler [(3-chlorophenyl)hydrazono]malononitrile (CCCP). These observations indicate impaired mitochondrial function. Further, TASK-3 knockdown cells presented reduced viability, decreased total DNA content, altered cell morphology, and reduced surface area. In contrast to non- and scrambled shRNA-transfected melanoma cell lines, which did not present noteworthy apoptotic activity, almost 50 % of the TASK-3 knockdown cells exhibited strong Annexin-V-specific immunofluorescence signal. Sequestration of cytochrome c from the mitochondria to the cytosol, increased caspase 3 activity, and translocation of the apoptosis-inducing factor from mitochondria to cell nuclei were also demonstrated in TASK-3 knockdown cells. Interference with TASK-3 channel expression, therefore, induces caspase-dependent and -independent apoptosis of melanoma cells, most likely via causing mitochondrial depolarization. Consequently, TASK-3 channels may be legitimate targets of future melanoma therapies.