AQP9-induced cell cycle arrest is associated with RAS activation and improves chemotherapy treatment efficacy in colorectal cancer

Cell Death Dis. 2017 Jun 22;8(6):e2894. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2017.282.


Aquaporin-9 (AQP9) expression is associated with arsenic sensitivity in leukemia cells. However, the role of AQP9 in regulating tumor sensitivity to adjuvant chemotherapy in colorectal cancer (CRC) has not been elucidated. In this study, we demonstrated that AQP9 can serve as an independent predictive marker for adjuvant chemotherapy in CRC. Patients with high AQP9 expression had higher rate of disease-free survival (DFS) than those with low AQP9 expression. Upregulation of AQP9 was associated with enhanced chemosensitivity to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) both in vitro and in vivo. Overexpression of AQP9 resulted in an increased intracellular level of 5-FU in CRC cells, hence leading to a higher percentage of apoptosis after 5-FU treatment. Moreover, AQP9 is positively associated with RAS activation and other downstream signaling molecules in CRC. AQP9 overexpression resulted in p21 upregulation and induced S-phase arrest. Taken together, AQP9 enhances the cytotoxic response to 5-FU in CRC cells by simultaneously inducing S-phase arrest via activation of RAS signaling and facilitating drug uptake. Our results suggest that AQP9 might be a novel predictor for the benefit of 5-FU-based chemotherapy in CRC. The identification of AQP9-induced tumor sensitivity to 5-FU highlights the role of AQP9 in regulating chemosensitivity in CRC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Aquaporins / chemistry
  • Aquaporins / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints* / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / pharmacology
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • S Phase / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Treatment Outcome
  • ras Proteins / metabolism*


  • AQP9 protein, human
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Aquaporins
  • ras Proteins
  • Fluorouracil