Splicing deregulation, microRNA and notch aberrations: fighting the three-headed dog to overcome drug resistance in malignant mesothelioma

Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2022 Mar;15(3):305-322. doi: 10.1080/17512433.2022.2074835. Epub 2022 May 15.


Introduction: Malignant mesothelioma (MMe) is an aggressive rare cancer of the mesothelium, associated with asbestos exposure. MMe is currently an incurable disease at all stages mainly due to resistance to treatments. It is therefore necessary to elucidate key mechanisms underlying chemoresistance, in an effort to exploit them as novel therapeutic targets.

Areas covered: Chemoresistance is frequently elicited by microRNA (miRNA) alterations and splicing deregulations. Indeed, several miRNAs, such as miR-29c, have been shown to exert oncogenic or oncosuppressive activity. Alterations in the splicing machinery might also be involved in chemoresistance. Moreover, the Notch signaling pathway, often deregulated in MMe, plays a key role in cancer stem cells formation and self-renewal, leading to drug resistance and relapses.

Expert opinion: The prognosis of MMe in patients varies among different tumors and patient characteristics, and novel biomarkers and therapies are warranted. This work aims at giving an overview of MMe, with a special focus on state-of-the-art treatments and new therapeutic strategies against vulnerabilities emerging from studies on epigenetics factors. Besides, this review is also the first to discuss the interplay between miRNAs and alternative splicing as well as the role of Notch as new promising frontiers to overcome drug resistance in MMe.

Keywords: Chemoresistance; cancer stem cells; malignant mesothelioma; microRNA; notch; splicing deregulation; targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mesothelioma, Malignant* / genetics
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Prognosis
  • RNA Splicing* / genetics
  • Receptors, Notch* / metabolism


  • MicroRNAs
  • Receptors, Notch