CENP-H regulates the cell growth of human hepatocellular carcinoma cells through the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway.
The genomic alterations of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are still unclear. Centromere protein-H (CENP-H) has been shown to be associated with many solid tumors. Our previous study found that CENP-H was upregulated in HCC and was related to patient prognosis. However, the biological functions of CENP-H in HCC and the possible underlying mechanisms have not been well elucidated. In the present study, we demonstrated that CENP-H knockdown inhibited the proliferation of Hep3B cells and decreased colony formation ability of single cells in vitro. Furthermore, CENP-H knockdown induced Hep3B cell apoptosis, and apoptotic bodies were observed using transmission electron microscopy. The protein expression of cleaved caspase-3 was upregulated in Hep3B cells after CENP-H knockdown. Additionally, a Bax/Bcl-2 ratio imbalance with a significant increase of Bax and a substantial decrease of Bcl-2 at both the mRNA and protein levels were determined in this study. In an animal experiment, CENP-H knockdown blocked the growth of Hep3B subcutaneous xenografts. Immunohistochemistry revealed that the protein expression of cleaved caspase-3 and Bax was increased, whereas the protein expression of Bcl-2 and Ki-67 was decreased in subcutaneous xenografts of the CENP-H-knockdown group. In summary, CENP-H may be involved in cell proliferation and apoptosis of HCC cells through the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway. Combined with previous studies, the data provide a new perspective on HCC development and progression.