Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common malignancies in adults. Similar to other solid tumors, CRC cells show increased proliferation and suppressed apoptosis during the development and progression of the disease. Previous studies have shown that a novel tumor oncogene, spermatogenic basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor zip 1 (SPZ1), can promote proliferation. However, it is unclear whether SPZ1 plays a role in suppressing apoptosis, and the molecular mechanism behind SPZ1’s suppression of apoptosis in CRC remains unclear. Here, we found that silencing endogenous SPZ1 inhibits cell growth and induces apoptosis, and overexpression of SPZ1 promotes cell growth. These findings were corroborated by in vitro and in vivo studies. Interestingly, SPZ1 overexpressing cells were resistant to 5-fluorouracil, a drug commonly used to treat cancer. Moreover, knocking down SPZ1 led to the activation of caspase through the deregulation of Bim by ERK1/2, we found that CRC tissues had significantly higher SPZ1 and lower Bim expression, and SPZ1HBimL were associated with advanced clinical stage of CRC. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that SPZ1 contributes to tumor progression by limiting apoptosis. SPZ1 reduces apoptosis by altering the stability of Bim, suggesting SPZ1 may serve as a biomarker and therapeutic target for CRC.

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