Since the discovery of PrPC (cellular prion protein), most studies have focused on its role in neurodegenerative diseases, whereas its function outside the nervous system remains obscure. We investigated the ability of PrPC in resisting TNFα (tumour necrosis factor α) apoptosis in three PrPC-transiently transfected cancer cell lines, renal adenocarcinoma ACHN, oral squamous cell carcinoma HSC-2 and colon adenocarcinoma LS174T. PrPC-expressing ACHN and LS174T cells had higher viabilities compared with the mock-transfected cells, while the transient overexpression of PrPC had minimal overall effect on HSC-2 cells due to its high endogenous PrPC expression. Cell cycles were also analysed, with both PrPC expressing ACHN and LS174T cells having a significantly higher proliferative index than mock-transfected cells. Flow cytometry analysis indicated a G1/S-phase cell cycle transition in both PrPC-expressing ACHN and LS174T cells. PrPC resists TNFα apoptosis due to a modest, but statistically significant, cell-specific cytoprotection compared with mock-transfected cells.
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