Background: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) recurrence is largely a result of multidrug resistance (MDR). We aimed to examine the role of 14-3-3ζ in AML chemosensitivity using HL-60 and vincristine-resistant HL-60/VCR cells. Methods: The effects of 14-3-3ζ siRNA on the growth and cell cycle progression of HL-60 and HL-60/VCR cells were determined. The effect of 14-3-3ζ siRNA on topotecan (TPT)-induced apoptosis was evaluated by several assays. Results: Compared to HL-60 cells, HL-60/VCR cells had increased 14-3-3ζ mRNA and protein expression. Increased mdr-1 mRNA as well as mdr-1, Bcl-2 and Mcl-1 protein expression were observed in HL-60/VCR cells. In both HL-60 and HL-60/VCR cells, 14-3-3ζ was observed in the cytoplasm and nuclear compartments. 14-3-3ζ siRNA significantly reduced HL-60 and HL-60/VCR cell growth after 48 h and increased the proportion of cells in the G0/G1 phase. Moreover, 14-3-3ζ siRNA significantly increased the sensitivity of both HL-60 and HL-60/VCR cells to TPT, possibly through the inhibition of Bcl-2, Mcl-1 and mdr-1 protein expression. Conclusions: Silencing of 14-3-3ζ increased the sensitivity of both sensitive and resistant HL-60 cells to TPT-induced apoptosis, possibly through altering the expression of apoptosis-associated proteins, suggesting that it may be a potential target for MDR AML.

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