Objective. The aim of the current study was to investigate the expression of genes encoded homeobox proteins such as MEIS3 (Meis homeobox 3), SPAG4 (sperm associated antigen 4), LHX1 (LIM homeobox 1), LHX2, and LHX6 in U87 glioma cells in response to glutamine deprivation in control glioma cells and cells with knockdown of ERN1 (endoplasmic reticulum to nucleus signaling 1), the major pathway of the endoplasmic reticulum stress signaling, for evaluation of a possible dependence on the expression of these important regulatory genes from glutamine supply and ERN1 signaling.

Methods. The expression level of MEIS3, SPAG4, LHX, LHX2, and LHX6 genes was studied by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction in control U87 glioma cells (transfected by vector) and cells with ERN1 knockdown after exposure to glutamine deprivation.

Results. It was shown that the expression level of MEIS3 and LHX1 genes was up-regulated in control glioma cells treated by glutamine deprivation. At the same time, the expression level of three other genes (LHX2, LHX6, and SPAG4) was down-regulated. Furthermore, ERN1 knockdown significantly modified the effect of glutamine deprivation on LHX1 gene expression in glioma cells, but did not change significantly the sensitivity of all other genes expression to this experimental condition.

Conclusion. The results of this investigation demonstrate that the exposure of U87 glioma cells under glutamine deprivation significantly affected the expression of all genes studied encoding the homeobox proteins and that this effect of glutamine deprivation was independent of the endoplasmic reticulum stress signaling mediated by ERN1, except LHX1 gene.