Externally added cystatin C reduces growth of A375 melanoma cells by increasing cell cycle time

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Some secreted cysteine protease inhibitors of the cystatin family appear to affect intracellular proteolysis and growth of human cells, as a result of internalization. Here, we studied the effects of external addition of the most abundant human cystatin, cystatin C, on viability and proliferation of cancer cells in culture. A dose-dependent decrease in viable cells was seen for A375 melanoma, MCF-7 breast cancer, and PC-3 prostate cancer cells cultured in 1–5 µm cystatin C after 24 h. Real-time assessment of growth rates in A375 cell cultures for 48 h by digital holographic microscopy showed an increased doubling time for cells cultured in the presence of 5 µm cystatin C (20.1 h) compared with control cells (14.7 h). A prolonged doubling time was already observed during the first 12 h, indicating a rapid general decrease in cell proliferation at the population level. Tracking of individual cells in phase holographic images showed that dividing cells incubated with 5 µm cystatin C underwent fewer mitoses during 48 h than control cells. In addition, the time between cell divisions was longer, especially for the first cell cycle. Incubation with the variant W106F-cystatin C (with high cellular uptake rate) resulted in a lower number of viable cells and a prolonged doubling time than when cells were incubated with wild-type cystatin C, but no effect was observed for (R24A,R25A)-cystatin C (low cellular uptake). Thus, cystatin C causes prolonged cell division leading to decreased proliferation of melanoma cells, and internalization seems to be a prerequisite for this effect.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • A375 cells, cell cycle, cell growth, cysteine peptidase, digital holographic microscopy, protease inhibitor
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1645-1658
Number of pages14
JournalFEBS Open Bio
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jun
Publication categoryResearch

Related research output

Samar Hunaiti, 2021, Lund: Lund University, Faculty of Medicine. 74 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)

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