Circular RNA circVAPA promotes chemotherapy drug resistance in gastric cancer progression by regulating miR-125b-5p/STAT3 axis

World J Gastroenterol. 2021 Feb 14;27(6):487-500. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i6.487.


Background: Gastric cancer (GC) is a prevalent malignancy, leading to a high incidence of cancer-associated death. Cisplatin (DDP)-based chemotherapy is the principal therapy for clinical GC treatment, but DDP resistance is a severe clinical challenge and the mechanism remains poorly understood. Circular RNAs (circRNAs) have been identified to play crucial roles in modulating the chemoresistance of gastric cancer cells.

Aim: To explore the effect of circVAPA on chemotherapy resistance during GC progression.

Methods: The effect of circVAPA on GC progression and chemotherapy resistance was analyzed by MTT assay, colony formation assay, Transwell assay, wound healing assay, and flow cytometry analysis in GC cells and DDP resistant GC cell lines, and tumorigenicity analysis in nude mice in vivo. The mechanism was investigated by luciferase reporter assay, quantitative real-time PCR, and Western blot analysis.

Results: CircVAPA expression was up-regulated in clinical GC tissues compared with normal samples. CircVAPA depletion inhibited proliferation, migration, and invasion and increased apoptosis of GC cells. The expression of circVAPA, STAT3, and STAT3 downstream genes was elevated in DDP resistant SGC7901/DDP cell lines. CircVAPA knockdown attenuated the DDP resistance of GC cells. Mechanically, circVAPA was able to sponge miR-125b-5p, and miR-125b-5p could target STAT3 in the GC cells. MiR-125b-5p inhibitor reversed circVAPA depletion-enhanced inhibitory effect of DDP on GC cells, and STAT3 knockdown blocked circVAPA overexpression-induced proliferation of DDP-treated SGC7901/DDP cells. The depletion of STAT3 and miR-125b-5p inhibitor reversed circVAPA depletion-induced GC cell apoptosis. Functionally, circVAPA contributed to the tumor growth of SGC7901/DDP cells in vivo.

Conclusion: CircVAPA promotes chemotherapy resistance and malignant progression in GC by miR-125b-5p/STAT3 signaling. Our findings present novel insights into the mechanism by which circVAPA regulates chemotherapy resistance of GC cells. CircVAPA and miR-125b-5p may be considered as the potential targets for GC therapy.

Keywords: Chemoresistance; CircVAPA; Gastric cancer; Progression; STAT3; miR-125b-5p.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • RNA, Circular*
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor*
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / genetics


  • MicroRNAs
  • Mirn125 microRNA, mouse
  • RNA, Circular
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • Stat3 protein, mouse