Targeting PCDH20 gene by microRNA-122 confers 5-FU resistance in hepatic carcinoma

Am J Cancer Res. 2016 Aug 1;6(8):1681-94. eCollection 2016.


Drug resistance is one of the main hurdles for the successful treatment of hepatic carcinoma. However, the detailed mechanisms underlying resistance remain largely unknown and therapeutic approaches are limited. In the present study, we show that miR-122 confers resistance to 5-fluorouracil induced hepatocellular carcinoma cell apoptosis in vitro and reduces the potency of 5-fluorouracil in the inhibition of tumor growth in a mouse xenograft model in vivo. Further studies indicate that miR-122 modulates drug resistance through down-regulation of expression of PCDH20, which belongs to the protocadherin gene family and negatively regulates Akt activation. Knockdown of PCDH20 expression increases Akt phosphorylation, which leads to elevated mTOR activity and enhanced 5-fluorouracil resistance; whereas rescue of PCDH20 expression in miR-122-expressing cells decreases Akt and mTOR phosphorylation, re-sensitizing hepatocellular carcinoma cell to 5-fluorouracil induced apoptosis. Moreover, a specific and potent Akt inhibitor reverses miR-122-conferred 5-fluorouracil resistance. These findings indicate that the miR-122/PCDH20/Akt/mTOR signaling axis has an important role in mediating response to chemotherapy in human hepatocellular carcinoma. A major implication of our study is that inhibition of miR-122 or restoration of PCDH20 expression may have significant therapeutic potential to overcome drug resistance in hepatocellular carcinoma and that the combined use of an Akt inhibitor with 5-fluorouracil may increase efficacy in liver cancer treatment.

Keywords: 5-FU; PCDH20; hepatic carcinoma; microRNA-122.