Background: Chemoresistance is one of the main causes of poor prognosis in pancreatic cancer patients. Understanding the mechanisms implicated in chemoresistance of pancreatic cancer is critical to improving patient outcomes. Recent evidences indicate that the long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are involving in chemoresistance of pancreatic cancer. However, the mechanisms of lncRNAs contribute to resistance in pancreatic cancer and remain largely unknown. The objective of this study is to construct a chemoresistance-related lncRNA-associated competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA) network of pancreatic cancer and identify the key lncRNAs in regulating chemoresistance of the network.
Methods: Firstly, lncRNA expression profiling of gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer cells was performed to identify lncRNAs related to chemoresistance by microarray analysis. Secondly, with insights into the mechanism of ceRNA, we used a bioinformatics approach to construct a chemoresistance-related lncRNAs-associated ceRNA network. We then identified the topological key lncRNAs in the ceRNA network and demonstrated its function or mechanism in chemoresistance of pancreatic cancer using molecular biological methods. Further studies evaluated its expression to assess its potential association with survival in patients with pancreatic cancer.
Results: Firstly, we demonstrated that lncRNAs were dysregulated in gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer cells. We then constructed a chemoresistance-related lncRNA-associated ceRNA network and proposed that lncRNA Homo sapiens glutathione S-transferase mu 3, transcript variant 2 and noncoding RNA (GSTM3TV2; NCBI Reference Sequence: NR_024537.1) might act as a key ceRNA to enhance chemoresistance by upregulating L-type amino acid transporter 2 (LAT2) and oxidized low-density lipoprotein receptor 1(OLR1) in pancreatic cancer. Further studies demonstrated that GSTM3TV2, overexpressed in gemcitabine-resistant cells, enhanced the gemcitabine resistance of pancreatic cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, we identified that GSTM3TV2 upregulated LAT2 and OLR1 by competitively sponging let-7 to promote gemcitabine resistance. In addition, we revealed that the expression levels of GSTM3TV2 were significantly increased in pancreatic cancer tissues and were associated with poor prognosis.
Conclusion: Our results suggest that GSTM3TV2 is a crucial oncogenic regulator involved in chemoresistance and could be a new therapeutic target or prognostic marker in pancreatic cancer.
Keywords: Chemoresistance; GSTM3TV2; Pancreatic cancer; Prognosis; ceRNA; lncRNA.