Loss of miR-873 contributes to gemcitabine resistance in triple-negative breast cancer via targeting ZEB1

Oncol Lett. 2019 Oct;18(4):3837-3844. doi: 10.3892/ol.2019.10697. Epub 2019 Aug 1.


Gemcitabine-based chemotherapy is commonly applied for the treatment of breast cancer in a clinical setting. However, acquired resistance to chemotherapy primarily results in treatment failure and eventually culminates in patient mortality. Aberrant expression of microRNAs (miRNAs) has been demonstrated to be implicated in the development of chemoresistance; however, the role of miR-873 in the chemoresistance of breast cancer and its underlying mechanism have not been completely elucidated. Herein, using cell viability assays, the present study demonstrated that overexpression of miR-873 sensitized triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells (MDA-MB-231 and BT549) towards gemcitabine treatment, while inhibition of miR-873 promoted resistance of TNBC cells to gemcitabine exposure. The 3' untranslated region of zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) was predicted as a candidate target of miR-873, and the regulatory association between ZEB1 and miR-873 was validated with a dual luciferase assay. Reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blot analysis confirmed that miR-873 mimics reduced ZEB1 at mRNA and protein levels in MDA-MB-231 and BT549 cells. As ZEB1 was previously reported to interact with Yes associated protein (YAP) to promote cancer progression. The present study observed that miR-873 overexpression decreased the expression of YAP target genes AXL receptor tyrosine kinase, connective tissue growth factor and cysteine rich angiogenic inducer 61 at mRNA and protein levels. Additionally, elevation of the ZEB1 level and reduction of the miR-873 level were detected in gemcitabine-resistant MDA-MB-231 (MDA-MB-231GEMr) cells, which were accompanied with stronger proliferative ability, compared with parental cells. Overexpression of miR-873 or ZEB1 knockdown reversed chemoresistance of MDA-MB-231GEMr cells by inducing a notable cell growth arrest upon gemcitabine exposure. In conclusion, the data obtained by the present study demonstrated that the decrease of miR-873 promoted the development of gemcitabine resistance in TNBC via elevation of ZEB1 expression, which indicated that miR-873 may be a promising predictor for gemcitabine sensitivity in patients with TNBC.

Keywords: gemcitabine resistance; microRNA-873; triple-negative breast cancer; zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1.