Background: GLI proteins play a significant role in the transduction of the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway. A variety of human cancers, including the brain, gastrointestinal, lung, breast, and prostate cancers, demonstrate inappropriate activation of this pathway. GLI helps in proliferation and has an inhibitory role in the differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells. Malignancies may have a defect in differentiation. Different types of malignancies and undifferentiated cells have a low level of HLA expression on their cell surface.
Objective: Human Leukocytic Antigen (HLA) downregulation is frequently observed in cancer cells. This work is aimed to hypothesize whether this downregulation of HLA molecules is GLI oncoprotein mediated or not. To understand the roles of different types of GLI oncoproteins on different classes of HLA transcriptional machinery was carried out through structure-based modeling and molecular docking studies.
Methods: To investigate the role of GLI in HLA expression /downregulation is Hh-GLI mediated or not, molecular docking based computational interaction studies were performed between different GLI proteins (GLI1, GLI2, and GLI3) with TATA box binding protein (TBP) and compare the binding efficiencies of different HLA gene (both HLA class I and –II) regulating transcription factors (RelA, RFX5, RFXAP, RFXANK, CIITA, CREB1, and their combinations) with TBP. Due to unavailability of 3D protein structures of GLI2 and cyclin D2 (a natural ligand of GLI1) were modelled followed by structural validation by Ramachandran plot analysis.
Results: GLI proteins especially, GLI1 and GLI2, have almost similar binding energy of RFX5-RFXANK- RFXAP and CIITA multi-protein complex to TBP but has lower binding energy between RelA to TBP.
Conclusion: This study suggests that HLA class I may not be downregulated by GLI; however, over-expression of GLI1 is may be responsible for HLA class II downregulation. Thus this protein may be responsible for the maintenance of the undifferentiated state of malignant cells. This study also suggests the implicative role of GLI1 in the early definitive stage of hematopoiesis.
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