Chromosomal instability induced by increased BIRC5/Survivin levels affects tumorigenicity of glioma cells

Marina Conde, Susanne Michen, Ralf Wiedemuth, Barbara Klink, Evelin Schröck, Gabriele Schackert, Achim Temme*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Survivin, belonging to the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) gene family, is abundantly expressed in tumors. It has been hypothesized that Survivin facilitates carcinogenesis by inhibition of apoptosis resulting in improved survival of tumorigenic progeny. Additionally, Survivin plays an essential role during mitosis. Together with its molecular partners Aurora B, Borealin and inner centromere protein it secures bipolar chromosome segregation. However, whether increased Survivin levels contribute to progression of tumors by inducing chromosomal instability remains unclear. Methods: We overexpressed Survivin in U251-MG, SVGp12, U87-MG, HCT116 and p53-deficient U87-MGshp53 and HCT116p53-/- cells. The resulting phenotype was investigated by FACS-assisted cell cycle analysis, Western Blot analysis, confocal laser scan microscopy, proliferation assays, spectral karyotyping and in a U251-MG xenograft model using immune-deficient mice. Results: Overexpression of Survivin affected cells with knockdown of p53, cells harboring mutant p53 and SV40 large T antigen, respectively, resulting in the increase of cell fractions harboring 4n and >4n DNA contents. Increased γH2AX levels, indicative of DNA damage were monitored in all Survivin-transduced cell lines, but only in p53 wild type cells this was accompanied by an attenuated S-phase entry and activation of p21waf/cip. Overexpression of Survivin caused a DNA damage response characterized by increased appearance pDNA-PKcs foci in cell nuclei and elevated levels of pATM S1981 and pCHK2 T68. Additionally, evolving structural chromosomal aberrations in U251-MG cells transduced with Survivin indicated a DNA-repair by non-homologous end joining recombination. Subcutaneous transplantation of U251-MG cells overexpressing Survivin and mycN instead of mycN oncogene alone generated tumors with shortened latency and decreased apoptosis. Subsequent SKY-analysis of Survivin/mycN-tumors revealed an increase in structural chromosomal aberrations in cells when compared to mycN-tumors. Conclusions: Our data suggest that increased Survivin levels promote adaptive evolution of tumors through combining induction of genetic heterogeneity with inhibition of apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number889
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • BIRC5/Survivin
  • Chromosomal instability
  • DNA damage
  • Glioma
  • P53


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