A signalling pathway involving PLEKHG5 (guanine exchange factor) for the Ras superfamily member RAB26 to transcription factor NF-kappaB was discovered in autophagy. PLEKHG5 was reported in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and correlates with patient survival. Thus, the generation of a cellular model for understanding PLEKHG5 signalling is the study purpose. We generated a CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout of PLEKHG5 in U251-MG glioblastoma cells and analysed resulting changes. Next, we used a mRFP-GFP-LC3+ reporter for visualisation of autophagic defects and rescued the phenotype of PLEKHG5 wildtype via transduction of a constitutively active RAB26QL-plasmid. Effects of overexpressing RAB26 were investigated and correlated with the O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) and cellular survival. PLEKHG5 knockout showed changes in morphology, loss of filopodia and higher population doubling times. Accumulation of autolysosomes was resulted by decreased LAMP-1 in PLEKHG5-deficient cells. Rescue of PLEKHG5-/- restored the downregulation of RhoA activity, showed faster response to tumour necrosis factor and better cellular fitness. MGMT expression was activated after RAB26 overexpression compared to non-transduced cells. Survival of PLEKHG5 knockout was rescued together with sensitivity to temozolomide by RAB26QL. This study provides new insights in the PLEKHG5/RAB26 signalling within U251-MG cells, which suggests potential therapeutic strategies in other glioma cells and further in primary GBM.
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