Silencing of ALA dehydratase affects ALA-photodynamic therapy efficacy in K562 erythroleukemic cells

Tamar Feuerstein, Avital Schauder, Zvi Malik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Synthesis of protoporphyrin IX (PpIX) by malignant cells is essential for the success of ALA-based photodynamic therapy (PDT). Two key enzymes that were described as affecting PpIX accumulation during ALA treatment are porphobilinogen deaminase (PBGD) and ferrochelatase. Here, we show that down regulation of ALA dehydratase (ALAD) expression and activity by specific shRNA induced a marked decrease in PpIX synthesis in K562 erythroleukemic cells. Photo-inactivation efficacy following ALA-PDT was directly correlated with ALAD-silencing and cellular levels of PpIX. MTT metabolism following ALA-PDT was shown to be 60% higher in ALAD-silenced cells in comparison to control cells, indicating that mitochondria were protected in the silenced cells. Morphological analysis by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of cells treated by ALA-PDT showed no morphological changes in ALAD-silenced cells, in contrast to controls exhibiting cell deformations and lysis. Membrane integrity following ALA-PDT was kept intact and undamaged in ALAD-silenced cells as examined by Annexin V-FITC/PI staining and LDH-L leakage. We conclude that ALAD, although it is present in the cell at abundant levels, has a major and limiting role in regulating PpIX synthesis and ALA-PDT outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1461-1466
Number of pages6
JournalPhotochemical and Photobiological Sciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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