Glioma, the most common subtype of primary brain tumor, is an aggressive and highly invasive neurologically tumor among human cancers. Interleukin-33 (IL-33) is considered as a dual functional cytokine, an alarmin upon tissue damage and a nuclear chromatin-associated protein. Despite that, IL-33 is known to foster the formation of the inflammatory tumor microenvironment and facilitate glioma progression, evidence showing nuclear IL-33 function is still poor. In this study using lentivirus-mediated IL-33 gene knockdown (IL33KD) and IL-33 overexpression (IL33oe) in rat C6 glioma cells and human glioma cell lines (U251MG and U87MG), we found that IL33oe-glioma cells had resistance to the insults of the alkylating agent, temozolomide (TMZ), possibly because of the increased expression of DNA repair genes (i.e., BRCA1, BRCA2, Rad51, FANCB, and FANCD) in IL33oe-glioma cells. Alternatively, examination of glioma nuclear shape from transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging analysis and immunofluorescence for histone protein H2A staining showed that IL33KD attenuated the abnormal cancerous nuclear characteristic, such as indentation, long clefts, and multiple nucleoids. Yet, IL33oe promoted the changes in glioma nuclear shapes, such as the formation of multiple lobes. We further found that histone proteins, H2A and H3, were reduced in IL33KD glioma cells. The non-histone DNA-binding nucleoproteins, the high mobility group A1 (HMGA1) and HMGA2, were also downregulated by IL33KD. In contrast, IL33oe increased H2A and H3 proteins and HMGA1 and HMGA2 in glioma cells. Altogether, the upregulation of nuclear IL-33 expression was along with an increase in the expression of DNA repair genes, contributing to the desensitization of glioma cells to DNA damaging agents. Moreover, nuclear IL-33 proteins in cooperation with chromatin-associated proteins regulate glioma nuclear structure, which might be crucial for glioma progression and malignancy.
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