Identification of chemoresistance-associated miRNAs in breast cancer

Cancer Manag Res. 2018 Oct 23;10:4747-4757. doi: 10.2147/CMAR.S172722. eCollection 2018.


Background: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) is an effective therapeutic regimen for patients with breast cancer. However, some individuals cannot benefit from NAC because of drug resistance. To date, valid strategies about enhancing sensitivity of breast cancer to NAC are still scarce. miRNAs have been reported to proverbially be involved in the onset and development of malignancies including drug resistance.

Methods: GSE73736 was downloaded from the GEO database. Student's t-test was conducted to acquire differentially expressed-miRNAs (DE-miRNAs). Potential target genes of DE-miRNAs were predicted by miRTarBase. Gene Ontology annotation and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway enrichment analyses for these target genes were performed by database for annotation, visualization, and integrated discovery. Protein-protein interaction network was constructed by STRING database and visualized through Cytoscape software. The hub target gene-miRNA network was also established by Cytoscape software. Next, the expression of potential functional miRNAs in breast cancer cell lines and tissues was determined. Finally, the roles of miR-3617-3p, miR-3136-3p, and miR-520b in modulating breast cancer chemoresistance were further examined.

Results: A total of 123 DE-miRNAs were identified, including 60 upregulated miRNAs and 63 downregulated miRNAs in the chemoresistant breast cancer group when compared with the chemosensitive group. Six hundred and seventeen and 1,146 potential target genes for the top 10 most upregulated and downregulated miRNAs were predicted, respectively. Enrichment analyses revealed that these target genes were enriched in some cancer-associated or chemo-resistance-associated pathways, such as MAPK signaling pathway, wnt signaling pathway, and p53 signaling pathway. MAPK1 and PRDM10 were identified as hub genes in the protein-protein interaction network. The top 25 hub genes were potentially regulated by 16 DE-miRNAs, among which miR-3617-3p and miR-3136-3p were commonly upregulated, whereas miR-520b was downregulated in two chemoresistant breast cancer cells compared with chemosensitive cell. By analyzing TCGA data, we found that expression of miR-3136-3p and miR-520b was increased and decreased in breast cancer tissues, respectively. Moreover, functional experiments demonstrated that miR-3136-3p and miR-3617-3p could reduce chemosensitivity of breast cancer, whereas miR-520b could reverse chemoresistance.

Conclusion: The present study, based on bioinformatics analysis and experimental validation, brings to light novel mechanisms of breast cancer NAC resistance.

Keywords: bioinformatics analysis; breast cancer; chemoresistance; enrichment analysis; neoadjuvant chemotherapy miRNA.