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Effects of Grb2‑associated binding protein 2‑specific siRNA on the migration and invasion of MG‑63 osteosarcoma cells

  • Authors:
    • Huan Wang
    • Hui He
    • Hongmei Meng
    • Yang Cui
    • Wenbo Wang
  • View Affiliations

  • Published online on: November 9, 2017
  • Pages:926-930
  • Copyright: © Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution License.

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To investigate the association between the expression of growth factor receptor binding protein 2‑associated binding protein 2 (Gab2) in human osteosarcoma as well as the effects of Gab2 on invasion and metastasis, human MG‑63 osteosarcoma cells were transfected with small interfering (si)RNA plasmid. Gab2 protein and mRNA expression levels were detected using western blotting and reverse transcription‑polymerase chain reaction, respectively. The cell migration and invasion abilities were detected using in vitro chemotaxis and invasion assays, respectively, following siRNA vector expression. Gab2 was markedly expressed in MG‑63 cells. The Gab2 protein and mRNA expression levels of the cells transfected with Gab2 siRNA (siGab2/MG‑63) were reduced compared with those of the cells transfected with scrambled siRNA (Scr/MG‑63). The chemotaxis assay demonstrated that the migration capacity of siGab2/MG‑63 cells induced by 10 µg/l epidermal growth factor, was significantly reduced compared with that of the MG‑63 and Scr/MG‑63 cells (P<0.01). In comparison with Scr/MG‑63 and MG‑63 cells, a reduced number of siGab2/MG‑63 cells invaded the Matrigel matrix, demonstrating that the in vitro invasion capacity was significantly decreased (P<0.01). Decreasing Gab2 expression levels using siRNA interference inhibited the migration and invasion ability of human MG‑63 osteosarcoma cells.


Osteosarcoma (OS) is the most prevalent malignant bone tumor, which accounts for 0.2% of primary bone cancer cases in China, with early hematogenous metastasis and a high incidence rate (1). The primary cause of mortality in patients with OS is metastasis, which affects the patients physical and psychological health (2,3). Growth factor receptor-bound protein 2 (Grb2), which is a recently established intracellular molecule (4,5), is a member of the associated binding protein family (5). Grb2-associated binding protein 2 (Gab2) is an important metastasis-regulatory protein, which serves a vital function in the invasion and metastasis of tumor cells (6). Gab2 has the characteristics of an oncogene and is highly expressed in lung cancer and glioma (7,8), but whether it participates in OS migration and invasion remains to be elucidated.

RNA interference using small interfering (si)RNA is a double-stranded RNA-mediated, sequence-specific post-transcriptional gene silencing strategy that can be conducted within a short period of time and maintains the integrity of genomic information. This technology is efficient and specific for post-transcriptional gene silencing (9). Plasmid vectors regulate the expression of a 45–50 nt short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) in mammalian cells. shRNA may be promptly integrated into siRNA in cells, thus inducing gene silencing or inhibiting expression. This strategy has been widely applied in genotherapy, vaccine production and several other fields (10).

Therefore, the aim of the present study was to inhibit Gab2 expression in human MG-63 OS cells using siRNA to observe the effects of Gab2 silencing on in vitro migration and invasion ability of OS cells cells, providing a novel target for controlling OS metastasis and clinical treatment.

Materials and methods

Reagents and cell line

Mouse anti-human β-actin (cat. no. sc-47778), Gab2 monoclonal antibodies (cat. no. sc-9313), goat anti-mouse IgG antibody (cat. no. sc-2005) and electro chemiluminescence reagent (cat. no. sc-2048) were all purchased from Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc., Dallas, TX, USA). Fibronectin, fetal bovine serum, trypsin, plasmid idi preparation kit (cat. no. D0018) and color pre-stained protein were purchased from Sigma-Aldrich; Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium (DMEM) culture medium was purchased from Gibco (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., Waltham, MA, USA). Corning 24-well plates for migration and invasion assays were purchased from Corning Incorporated (Corning, NY, USA). Matrigel matrix was obtained from Vigorous Biotechnology Beijing Co., Ltd., (Beijing, China). TRIzol kit was bought from Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc. The one-step reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) kit was purchased from Qiagen GmbH (Hilden, Germany). siRNA plasmids for Gab2 target fragment (5′-GTGAGAACGATGAAATA-3′) and scramble (Scr) sequence (cat. no. SIC003) were constructed by Shanghai GenePharma Co., Ltd., (Shanghai, China). PCR primers were designed by the authors and synthesized by BGI Biotechnology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd (Shenzhen, China). The human MG-63 OS cell line was provided by Type Culture Collection of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Shanghai, China).

Cell culture and transfection

The MG-63 cell line was cultured in DMEM/F10 culture medium and incubated at 37°C in a humidified incubator with 5% CO2. The MG-63 cells in the logarithmic growth phase were selected and divided into 3 groups: (a) MG-63 cells that were routinely cultured without any treatment; (b) Scr/MG-63 cells that were transiently transfected with a plasmid containing Scr siRNA sequence; (c) siGab2/MG-63 cells that were transiently transfected with a plasmid containing Gab2 targeting RNA fragment (5′-GTGAGAACGATGAAATA-3′). Transfection was conducted according to the manufacturers protocol.


MG-63 cells in the logarithmic growth phase were collected. Total RNA was extracted using Trizol according to the manufacturer's protocol, and reverse-transcribed into cDNA. The cDNA synthesis from total RNA (1 µg) was carried out in a reaction volume of 20 µl containing 50 mM Tris-HCl (pH 8.3), 75 mM KCl, 3 mM MgCl2, 5 mM dithiothreitol, 0.5 mM deoxynucleoside triphosphate mix, 200 units SuperScriptTM III reverse transcriptase (Thermo Fisher scientific, Inc., Waltham, MA, USA) and 1 µl random primers (hexanucleotide mix, 10X; Roche Applied Science, Mannheim, Germany). Primers were designed and the sequences were as follows: Gab2 forward primer, 5′-CTGAGACTGATAACGAGGAT-3′; Gab2 reverse primer, 5′-GAGGTGTTTCTGCTTGAC-3′; β-actin (internal reference) forward primer, 5′-GACGTGGACATCCGCAAAGAC-3′; β-actin reverse primer, 5′-TAGTTGCGTTACACCCTTCTTG-3′. RT-PCR reaction system was prepared according to the manufacturers protocol. Thermocycling conditions for reverse transcription were as follows: 50°C for 30 min, 95°C for 15 min, followed by the cycle of 94°C for 30 sec, 57°C for 30 sec and 72°C for 30 sec for 30 cycles, finally, an extension step at 72°C for 10 min was performed. PCR products were separated using 1.5–2% agarose gel electrophoresis and the images captured. The absorbance (A) of the DNA bands were analyzed by densitometry analysis using Image-J (version 1.47; National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA) and relative mRNA expression levels were expressed as AGab2/Aβ-actin.

Western blotting

MG-63 cells were seeded at densities of ~30,000–45,000 cells/ml in Petri dishes. Following this, 200–500 µl of RIPA Lysis and extraction buffer (cat no. 89900; Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.) was added to 2–3 plates from the same treatment and cell scraping was performed carefully from the bottom of each plate, on ice. The lysates were collected in new tubes and kept on ice for 10–15 min. Protein concentrations were determined using a BCA Protein Assay Kit (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.). The supernatants from all steps were stored at −80°C until further analysis. Total proteins (60 µg) per well were loaded and all samples were subsequently separated on a NuPage 4–12% Bis-Tris gel with MOPS/SDS running buffer on an Xcell4 SureLock Midi-cell vertical electrophoresis unit. Magic Mark (3 µl) was applied as molecular weight marker. Proteins were transferred to polyvinylidene fluoride membranes, blocked in 5% non-fat milk power in TBS with 10% Tween 20 (TBST) for 1 h at room temperature and probed with primary antibody against Gab2 (1:1,200) and β-actin at (1:3,000) in blocking buffer (cat no. 37515; Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.) and incubated overnight at 4°C. The following day, membranes were washed 3 times with (TBST), and probed with horseradish peroxidase-conjugated secondary goat anti-mouse IgG antibody (1:3,000) for 1 h at room temperature. Proteins were detected by exposure to enhanced chemiluminescence kit (ab133406; Abcam, Cambridge, UK) for development.

Chemotaxis assay

Cells were resuspended at a density of 0.5×109 cells/l and culture medium containing 0, 1, 10, 100 and 1,000 µg/l epidermal growth factor (EGF) was added into the lower chamber. An 8-µm filter membrane that had been coated overnight with 0.001% fibronectin at 4°C was inserted between the upper and lower chambers. The cell suspension was added into the upper chamber, 50 µl per well. Then, the chemotaxis chambers were incubated for 3 h at 37°C in an atmosphere containing 5% CO2, and the cells in the chamber above the filter membrane were scratched with a 200 µl pipette tip, washed 3 times with Dulbecco's PBS (cat. no., 14190367; Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc.), stained with 0.04% trypan blue in PBS (cat. no., 72-57-7; Sigma-Aldrich; Merck KGaA) for 24 h at 37°C and observed and counted using ×400 magnification on a fluorescence microscope. In total, 3 visual fields were randomly selected from each well and the total number was used as the cell count.

Detection of in vitro cell invasion ability

According to a previous study (6), mechanical stimulus (scratch) was added in the lower chamber that was observed under the ×400 magnification using a fluorescence microscope. In total 5 high-power fields were selected to count the number of cells in the lower chamber, representing the invasive cells. Each experiment was performed in triplicate and the mean values were used as the results.

Statistical analysis

All data were expressed as mean ± standard deviation, and those with variance homogeneity were subjected to one-way analysis of variance. Inter-group comparisons were performed using the least significant difference test. SPSS v16.0 software (SPSS, Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) was used for data analysis. P<0.05 was considered to indicate a statistically significant difference.


Gab2 protein levels detected using western blotting

Transiently transfected cells were cultured for 72 h, from which Gab2 protein was extracted and quantified using western blot analysis. Gab2 protein was expressed in the 3 groups and the ratios of the band densities were compared with those of β-actin and were 1.00, 0.94 and 0.31 respectively. However, the band density of the siGab2/MG-63 group was markedly reduced, suggesting that transfection of siRNA plasmid was successful (Fig. 1).

Gab2 mRNA expression detected by semi-quantitative RT-PCR

The densities of Gab2 and β-actin bands were analyzed and Gab2 mRNA expression level was semi-quantified using band density. The mRNA band density of the siGab2/MG-63 group was significantly reduced compared with that of the Scr/MG-63 and MG-63 groups (Fig. 2), further demonstrating the successful transfection and expression of the siRNA plasmid and the inhibited expression of Gab2 gene. The establishment of the experimental group in which Gab2 exhibited reduced expression provided reference for subsequent experiments.

Chemotaxis assay

Following EGF induction, the MG-63 and Scr/MG-63 groups demonstrated increased chemotactic ability and 10 µg/l EGF was determined to be the optimum concentration (Fig. 3). The chemotactic indices of the 2 groups were 7.87±0.31 and 7.91±0.43, respectively, and there was no significant difference identified between these groups. With the chemotactic index of 3.43±0.24, the chemotactic ability of the siGab2/MG-63 group was significantly reduced compared with that of the other 2 groups (P<0.01), indicating that the expression of Gab2 protein in MG-63 cells inhibited cell migration (Fig. 3).

In vitro invasion assay

In vitro invasion assay identified that the average number of invasive cells were 49±7, 51±5 and 23±5 in the MG-63, Scr/MG-63 and SiGab2/MG-63 groups, respectively. Compared with the MG-63 and Scr/MG-63 groups, a significantly reduced number of cells in the siGab2/MG-63 group penetrated the 8-µm filter membrane (P<0.01; Fig. 4). The other two groups had similar results to each other and no significant difference was identified between these groups.


As a prevalent malignant bone tumor, OS primarily occurs in young adults, with high malignancy, increased invasion capacity and early hematogenous lung metastasis. Gab2 protein is a macromolecular protein comprising of 1870 amino acid residues and also established as an Akt phosphorylation enhancer (11). As an important member of the scaffold protein family, Gab2 protein participates in signal transduction by mediating the coupling between membrane receptors and signal transduction proteins as well as the integration between signaling molecules (12). Once activated by phosphorylation of tyrosine kinase, Gab2 accepts stimuli from a number of extracellular factors, recruits signal transduction molecules that are rich in SH2 domain, activates downstream signaling transduction pathways (including phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase catalytic subunit α/Akt serine/threonine kinase and protein-tyrosine phosphatase 2C/Ras/extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2), have important roles in physiological processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation and migration (13,14). In addition, Gab2 primarily controls the onset and progression of human cancer (6,15) and is highly expressed in breast cancer, ovarian cancer, melanoma and gastric cancer. It also participates in tumor metastasis (1618), the depletion of Gap2 is able to reduce mouse myeloid dysplasia (19). Notably, Gab2 is indispensable for tumor onset and progression and therefore is an important potential tumor-driving factor (20,21). Chemotaxis of OS cells, which is an important step of tumor growth, is also responsible for the tumor cell invasion.

siRNA, which is a double-stranded RNA-mediated, sequence-specific post-transcriptional gene silencing technology, may be performed within a short time period and maintains genomic information integrity. This technology is a potential tool for cancer genotherapy as it has high efficiency and specificity of post-transcriptional gene silencing (22). Plasmid vectors manipulate the expression of a 45–50 nt shRNA in mammalian cells. shRNA may be automatically processed into siRNA in cells, thereby inducing gene silencing or expression inhibition. This technology has been widely applied in genotherapy, vaccine production and certain other research fields (23).

In the current study, human MG-63 OS cells were transfected with siRNA plasmid containing Gab2 target fragment to establish the siGab2/MG-63 cells in which Gab2 siRNA was transiently expressed. Gab2 protein was, as determined using western blotting, highly expressed in MG-63 cells, however it was significantly decreased in siGab2/MG-63 cells. The effects of decreasing Gab2 protein expression on cell migration and invasion capacities in OS cells were assessed using in vitro chemotaxis and invasion assays. siGab2/MG-63 cells demonstrated significantly reduced migration and invasion compared with that of Scr/MG-63 and MG-63 cells, suggesting that reducing Gab2 expression inhibits these processes. Therefore, Gab2 may be involved in regulating or controlling OS migration and invasion. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of these functions remain to be determined by further studies.


The authors would like to thank their colleagues for carefully reading the manuscript and contributing to the progress of the current study with their evaluation and insight. The present study was partially sponsored by the Scientific Research Items of Hei Long-Jiang Provincial Health Bureau of China (grant no. 2013003), Scientific Research Fund of the First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University (grant no. 2013704), Shandong Provincial Natural Science Foundation (grant no. ZR2014HP027) and Linyi Municipal Science and Technology Development Plan (grant no. 201413014).



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January 2018
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Wang, H., He, H., Meng, H., Cui, Y., & Wang, W. (2018). Effects of Grb2‑associated binding protein 2‑specific siRNA on the migration and invasion of MG‑63 osteosarcoma cells. Oncology Letters, 15, 926-930.
Wang, H., He, H., Meng, H., Cui, Y., Wang, W."Effects of Grb2‑associated binding protein 2‑specific siRNA on the migration and invasion of MG‑63 osteosarcoma cells". Oncology Letters 15.1 (2018): 926-930.
Wang, H., He, H., Meng, H., Cui, Y., Wang, W."Effects of Grb2‑associated binding protein 2‑specific siRNA on the migration and invasion of MG‑63 osteosarcoma cells". Oncology Letters 15, no. 1 (2018): 926-930.