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Silencing of sigma-1 receptor induces cell death in human lens cells.

Wang L., Duncan G.

Sigma receptors have no known homology with other receptor systems, have no known natural ligands, but appear to play a critical role in a large diversity of cell functions. In the absence of a conventional pharmacology, siRNA technology provides a direct means of elucidating the major cell signaling pathways influenced by this receptor system. The non-transformed human lens cell line FHL124 was found to express the sigma-1 receptor (Sig-1R) and was employed for these studies. 72 h of transfection with either of the two siRNA directed against the sigma-1 receptor reduced messenger RNA and protein levels by over 70 and 60% respectively. Subsequent incubation for 96 h in culture medium (EMEM) supplemented with 5% serum gave a partial recovery of message, but there was no significant increase in protein. LDH leakage assays showed that significant cell death occurred during this time with an increased expression of caspase-3. Thrombin (10 nM) drives the growth of lens cells with a concomitant increase in ERK and Akt phosphorylation. These increases were inhibited in the cells where knockdown had occurred but not in cells exposed to scrambled siRNA. This study establishes a central role for Sig-1R in cell survival and death.

Exp. Cell Res. 312:1439-1446(2006) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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