Survivin safeguards chromosome numbers and protects from aneuploidy independently from p53

Ralf Wiedemuth, Barbara Klink, Katrin Töpfer, Evelin Schröck, Gabriele Schackert, Masaaki Tatsuka, Achim Temme*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Survivin, a member of the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) gene family, has a dual role in mitosis and in apoptosis. It is abundantly expressed in every human tumor, compared with normal tissues. During mitosis Survivin assembles with the chromosomal passenger complex and regulates chromosomal segregation. Here, we aim to explore whether interference with the mitotic function of Survivin is linked to p53-mediated G1 cell cycle arrest and affects chromosomal stability. Methods: In this study, we used HCT116, SBC-2, and U87-MG and generated corresponding isogenic p53-deficient cells. Retroviral vectors were used to stably knockdown Survivin. The resulting phenotype, in particular the mechanisms of cell cycle arrest and of initiation of aneuploidy, were investigated by Western Blot analysis, confocal laser scan microscopy, proliferation assays, spectral karyotyping and RNAi. Results: In all cell lines Survivin-RNAi did not induce instant apoptosis but caused polyplodization irrespective of p53 status. Strikingly, polyploidization after knockdown of Survivin resulted in merotelic kinetochore spindle assemblies, γH2AX-foci, and DNA damage response (DDR), which was accompanied by a transient p53-mediated G1-arrest. That p53 wild type cells specifically arrest due to DNA damage was shown by simultaneous inhibition of ATM and DNA-PK, which abolished induction of p21waf/cip. Cytogenetic analysis revealed chromosomal aberrations indicative for DNA double strand break repair by the mechanism of non-homologous end joining (NHEJ), only in Survivin-depleted cells. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that Survivin plays an essential role in proper amphitelic kinetochore-spindle assembly and that constraining Survivin's mitotic function results in polyploidy and aneuploidy which cannot be controlled by p53. Therefore, Survivin critically safeguards chromosomal stability independently from p53.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107
JournalMolecular Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • ATM
  • DNA-PK
  • Survivin
  • p21
  • p53


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