Loss of VOPP1 overexpression in squamous carcinoma cells induces apoptosis through oxidative cellular injury

Alexander S. Baras, Alex Solomon, Robert Davidson, Christopher A. Moskaluk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The vesicular overexpressed in cancer prosurvival protein 1 (VOPP1) gene product (previously known as GASP and ECOP) has a poorly characterized functional role in cancer cells, although its expression levels are known to be elevated in many cancer types. To determine the role that VOPP1 has in human squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a series of siRNA-mediated expression knockdown experiments were performed in carcinoma-derived model systems with confirmed endogenous VOPP1 overexpression (three SCC-derived cell lines: SCC-9, FaDu, and H2170, as well as the cervical adenocarcinoma HeLa cell line, which has been examined in relevant previous reports). The data indicate that VOPP1 knockdown induces cell death at 72 h post-transfection and this is caused by the induction of apoptosis via the intrinsic pathway. Analysis of microarray gene expression profiling showed that genes whose expression was affected by VOPP1 knockdown exhibited enrichment in annotations of oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. Reporters of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and mitochondrial membrane potential show that ROS levels become elevated and mitochondrial dysfunction occurs with VOPP1 knockdown at time points before the activation of effector caspases and cell death seen at later time points. Furthermore, the introduction of the antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine was able to abrogate the induction of apoptosis observed with VOPP1 knockdown in a dose-responsive manner. Reporter constructs for NF-B-mediated transcription are not affected in SCC cell lines by VOPP1 knockdown. Taken together, these data support the hypothesis that VOPP1 overexpression in cancer participates in the control of the intracellular redox state, and that its loss leads to oxidative cellular injury leading to cell death by the intrinsic apoptotic pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1170-1180
Number of pages11
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • VOPP1
  • apoptosis
  • cancer
  • overexpressed
  • oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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