Targeting HNRNPU to overcome cisplatin resistance in bladder cancer

Mol Cancer. 2022 Feb 7;21(1):37. doi: 10.1186/s12943-022-01517-9.


Purpose: The overall response of cisplatin-based chemotherapy in bladder urothelial carcinoma (BUC) remains unsatisfactory due to the complex pathological subtypes, genomic difference, and drug resistance. The genes that associated with cisplatin resistance remain unclear. Herein, we aimed to identify the cisplatin resistance associated genes in BUC. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: The cytotoxicity of cisplatin was evaluated in six bladder cancer cell lines to compare their responses to cisplatin. The T24 cancer cells exhibited the lowest sensitivity to cisplatin and was therefore selected to explore the mechanisms of drug resistance. We performed genome-wide CRISPR screening in T24 cancer cells in vitro, and identified that the gene heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein U (HNRNPU) was the top candidate gene related to cisplatin resistance. Epigenetic and transcriptional profiles of HNRNPU-depleted cells after cisplatin treatment were analyzed to investigate the relationship between HNRNPU and cisplatin resistance. In vivo experiments were also performed to demonstrate the function of HNRNPU depletion in cisplatin sensitivity.

Results: Significant correlation was found between HNRNPU expression level and sensitivity to cisplatin in bladder cancer cell lines. In the high HNRNPU expressing T24 cancer cells, knockout of HNRNPU inhibited cell proliferation, invasion, and migration. In addition, loss of HNRNPU promoted apoptosis and S-phase arrest in the T24 cells treated with cisplatin. Data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) demonstrated that HNRNPU expression was significantly higher in tumor tissues than in normal tissues. High HNRNPU level was negatively correlated with patient survival. Transcriptomic profiling analysis showed that knockout of HNRNPU enhanced cisplatin sensitivity by regulating DNA damage repair genes. Furthermore, it was found that HNRNPU regulates chemosensitivity by affecting the expression of neurofibromin 1 (NF1).

Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that HNRNPU expression is associated with cisplatin sensitivity in bladder urothelial carcinoma cells. Inhibition of HNRNPU could be a potential therapy for cisplatin-resistant bladder cancer.

Keywords: Bladder urothelial carcinoma; Cisplatin; Genome-wide CRISPR screening; HNRNPU.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents* / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell* / drug therapy
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology
  • Cisplatin / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Heterogeneous-Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein U
  • Humans
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms* / pathology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Heterogeneous-Nuclear Ribonucleoprotein U
  • Cisplatin