Modulation of the mRNA-binding protein HuR as a novel reversal mechanism of epirubicin-triggered multidrug resistance in colorectal cancer cells

Guan Liang Lin, Huei Ju Ting, Ta Chien Tseng, Vivian Juang, Yu Li Lo

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20 Citations (Scopus)


HuR (ELAVL1), a RNA-binding protein, plays a key role in posttranscriptional regulation of multidrug resistance (MDR)-related genes. Among various HuR-regulated oncogenic transcripts, the activation of galectin-3/β-catenin survival pathway is critical to induce transcription of cyclin D1, P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and/or multidrug resistance-associated proteins (MRPs). In this study, we aim to elucidate the HuR-regulating pathways related to epirubicin-mediated resistance in human colorectal carcinoma cells. The effects and mechanisms of epirubicin treatment on the expressions of upstream survival signals (e.g., β-catenin) and downstream MDR transporters (e.g., P-gp) and anti-apoptotic pathways (e.g., Bcl-2) were assessed with or without HuR knockdown (siHuR) or overexpression (overHuR; ectopic HuR or pcDNA3/HA-HuR). Our results showed that siHuR decreased transcriptional expressions of galectin-3, β-catenin, cyclin D1, Bcl-2, P-gp, MRP1, and MRP2 in epirubicin-treated colon cancer cells. Consistently, the co-treatment of epirubicin and siHuR diminished the expressions of galectin-3, ß-catenin, c-Myc, P-gp and MRP1. HuR silencing enhanced the intracellular accumulation of epirubicin in colon cancer cells. On the other hand, overHuR abolished such effects. Furthermore, siHuR significantly intensified epirubicin-mediated apoptosis via increasing reactive oxygen species and thus promoted the cytotoxic effect of epirubicin. The combined treatments of siHuR and epirubicin significantly reduced the expression of Bcl-2, but increased the expression of Bax, as well as activity and expression levels of caspase-3 and -9. In contrast, overHuR abrogated these effects. Our findings provide insight into the mechanisms by which siHuR potentiated epirubicin-induced cytotoxicity via inhibiting galectin-3/β-catenin signaling, suppressing MDR transporters and provoking apoptosis. To our best knowledge, this is an innovative investigation linking the post-transcriptional control by HuR silencing to survival signaling repression, efflux transporter reversal and apoptosis induction. Our study thus provides a powerful regimen for circumventing MDR in colon cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0185625
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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