TMEM97 and PGRMC1 do not mediate sigma-2 ligand-induced cell death

Chenbo Zeng, Chi Chang Weng, Mark E. Schneider, Laura Puentes, Aladdin Riad, Kuiying Xu, Mehran Makvandi, Linda Jin, William G. Hawkins, Robert H. Mach*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

43 Scopus citations


Sigma-2 receptors have been implicated in both tumor proliferation and neurodegenerative diseases. Recently the sigma-2 receptor was identified as transmembrane protein 97 (TMEM97). Progesterone receptor membrane component 1 (PGRMC1) was also recently reported to form a complex with TMEM97 and the low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor, and this trimeric complex is responsible for the rapid internalization of LDL. Sigma-2 receptor ligands with various structures have been shown to induce cell death in cancer cells. In the current study, we examined the role of TMEM97 and PGRMC1 in mediating sigma-2 ligand-induced cell death. Cell viability and caspase-3 assays were performed in control, TMEM97 knockout (KO), PGRMC1 KO, and TMEM97/PGRMC1 double KO cell lines treated with several sigma-2 ligands. The data showed that knockout of TMEM97, PGRMC1, or both did not affect the concentrations of sigma-2 ligands that induced 50% of cell death (EC50), suggesting that cytotoxic effects of these compounds are not mediated by TMEM97 or PGRMC1. Sigma-1 receptor ligands, (+)-pentazocine and NE-100, did not block sigma-2 ligand cytotoxicity, suggesting that sigma-1 receptor was not responsible for sigma-2 ligand cytotoxicity. We also examined whether the alternative, residual binding site (RBS) of 1,3-Di-o-tolylguanidine (DTG) could be responsible for sigma-2 ligand cytotoxicity. Our data showed that the binding affinities (Ki) of sigma-2 ligands on the DTG RBS did not correlate with the cytotoxicity potency (EC50) of these ligands, suggesting that the DTG RBS was not fully responsible for sigma-2 ligand cytotoxicity. In addition, we showed that knocking out TMEM97, PGRMC1, or both reduced the initial internalization rate of a sigma-2 fluorescent ligand, SW120. However, concentrations of internalized SW120 became identical later in the control and knockout cells. These data suggest that the initial internalization process of sigma-2 ligands does not appear to mediate the cell-killing effect of sigma-2 ligands. In summary, we have provided evidence that sigma-2 receptor/TMEM97 and PGRMC1 do not mediate sigma-2 ligand cytotoxicity. Our work will facilitate elucidating mechanisms of sigma-2 ligand cytotoxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number58
JournalCell Death Discovery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 01 12 2019
Externally publishedYes

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© 2019, The Author(s).


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