The c-MYC-ABCB5 axis plays a pivotal role in 5-fluorouracil resistance in human colon cancer cells

J Cell Mol Med. 2015 Jul;19(7):1569-81. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.12531. Epub 2015 Feb 17.


c-MYC overexpression is frequently observed in various cancers including colon cancer and regulates many biological activities such as aberrant cell proliferation, apoptosis, genomic instability, immortalization and drug resistance. However, the mechanism by which c-MYC confers drug resistance remains to be fully elucidated. In this study, we found that the c-MYC expression level in primary colorectal cancer tissues correlated with the recurrence rate following 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)-based adjuvant chemotherapy. Supporting this finding, overexpression of exogenous c-MYC increased the survival rate following 5-FU treatment in human colon cancer cells, and knockdown of endogenous c-MYC decreased it. Furthermore, c-MYC knockdown decreased the expression level of ABCB5, which is involved in 5-FU resistance. Using a chromatin immunoprecipitation assay, we found that c-MYC bound to the ABCB5 promoter region. c-MYC inhibitor (10058-F4) treatment inhibited c-MYC binding to the ABCB5 promoter, leading to a decrease in ABCB5 expression level. ABCB5 knockdown decreased the survival rate following 5-FU treatment as expected, and the ABCB5 expression level was increased in 5-FU-resistant human colon cancer cells. Finally, using a human colon cancer xenograft murine model, we found that the combined 5-FU and 10058-F4 treatment significantly decreased tumorigenicity in nude mice compared with 5-FU or 10058-F4 treatment alone. 10058-F4 treatment decreased the ABCB5 expression level in the presence or absence of 5-FU. In contrast, 5-FU treatment alone increased the ABCB5 expression level. Taken together, these results suggest that c-MYC confers resistance to 5-FU through regulating ABCB5 expression in human colon cancer cells.

Keywords: 5-fluorouracil resistance; ABCB5; c-MYC; colon cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / genetics
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / metabolism*
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis / drug effects
  • Carcinogenesis / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / pharmacology*
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Thiazoles / pharmacology


  • 5-(4-ethylbenzylidene)-2-thioxothiazolidin-4-one
  • ABCB5 protein, human
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Thiazoles
  • Fluorouracil