J Cancer 2019; 10(12):2745-2753. doi:10.7150/jca.31804

Research Paper

miR-1226-3p Promotes Sorafenib Sensitivity of Hepatocellular Carcinoma via Downregulation of DUSP4 Expression

Xianqing Chen1,2,*, Wenliang Tan1,2,*, Wenxin Li1,2, Wenda Li1,2, Sicong Zhu1,3, Jinyi Zhong2, Changzhen Shang1,2,✉, Yajin Chen1,2,✉

1. Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Malignant Tumor Epigenetics and Gene Regulation, Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China
2. Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China
3. Department of SICU, Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China
*These authors provided equal contribution to this work.

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Citation:
Chen X, Tan W, Li W, Li W, Zhu S, Zhong J, Shang C, Chen Y. miR-1226-3p Promotes Sorafenib Sensitivity of Hepatocellular Carcinoma via Downregulation of DUSP4 Expression. J Cancer 2019; 10(12):2745-2753. doi:10.7150/jca.31804. Available from http://www.jcancer.org/v10p2745.htm

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Abstract

Background: Sorafenib appears to increase the survival rate of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients, but its response rate is seriously limited due to drug resistance. Molecular mechanisms underlying sorafenib resistance are still unknown. Herein, we explored the possible role of miR-1226-3p in sorafenib resistance of HCC.

Methods: The miR-1226-3p expression level in HCC cell lines was evaluated by qRT-PCR. Cell viabilities to sorafenib were measured by CCK-8 assay. Cell apoptosis and proliferation were detected by flow cytometry and EdU proliferation assay. A luciferase reporter of DUSP4 3'-UTR was used for validation as a target gene of miR-1226-3p. Finally, the effects of in vivo antitumor efficacy of miR-1226-3p combined with sorafenib were evaluated by HCC tumor xenografts in nude mice.

Results: Bioinformatics analysis from Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) datasets GSE56059 suggested that miR-1226-3p expression was downregulated in HCC patients who showed progressive disease (PD) after sorafenib treatment. SK-HEP-1 cells expressed lower levels of miR-1226-3p than HepG2 cells. We confirmed that SK-HEP-1 cells were more resistant to sorafenib compared to HepG2 cells. In addition, miR-1226-3p mimic increased cell apoptosis of SK-HEP-1 cells, whereas miR-1226-3p inhibitor significantly impaired cell apoptosis of HepG2 cells after sorafenib treatment. Moreover, we validated that miR-1226-3p directly targeted dual specificity phosphatase 4 (DUSP4), and further demonstrated that knockdown of DUSP4 reduced sorafenib resistance by regulating the JNK-Bcl-2 axis.

Conclusions: miR-1226-3p promotes sorafenib sensitivity of HCC through downregulation of DUSP4 expression, and targeting miR-1226-3p may be a novel therapeutic strategy for overcoming sorafenib resistance.

Keywords: miR-1226-3p, DUSP4, sorafenib resistance, hepatocellular carcinoma