The actin-binding protein Girdin is a hub protein that interacts with multiple proteins to regulate motility and Akt and trimeric G protein signaling in cancer cells. Girdin expression correlates with poor outcomes in multiple human cancers. However, those findings are not universal, as they depend on study conditions. Those data suggest that multiple aspects of Girdin function and its role in tumor cell responses to anticancer therapeutics must be reconsidered. In the present study, we found that Girdin is involved in DNA damage-induced cancer cell apoptosis. An esophageal cancer cell line that exhibited high Girdin expression showed a marked sensitivity to UV-mediated DNA damage compared to a line with low Girdin expression. When transcriptional activation of endogenous Girdin was mediated by an engineered CRISPR/Cas9 activation system, sensitivity to DNA damage increased in both stationary and migrating HeLa cancer cells. High Girdin expression was associated with dysregulated cell cycle progression and prolonged G1 and M phases. These features were accompanied by p53 activation, which conceivably increases cancer cell vulnerability to UV exposure. These data highlight the importance of understanding complex Girdin functions that influence cancer cell sensitivity to therapeutics.
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