1. Institute of Medical Sciences, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China 410008;
2. Key Laboratory for Molecular Radiation Oncology of Hunan Province, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China 410008;
3. Department of Oncology, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China 410008.
Background: Oxaliplatin (OXA) chemotherapy is widely used in the clinical treatment of colon cancer. However, chemo-resistance is still a barrier to effective chemotherapy in cases of colon cancer. Accumulated evidence suggests that the epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) may be a critical factor in chemo-sensitivity. The present study investigated the effects of Zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) on OXA-sensitivity in colon cancer cells.
Method: ZEB1expression and its correlation with clinicopathological characteristics were analyzed using tumor tissue from an independent cohort consisting of 118 colon cancer (CC) patients who receiving OXA-based chemotherapy. ZEB1 modulation of OXA-sensitivity in colon cancer cells was investigated in a OXA-resistant subline of HCT116/OXA cells and the parental colon cancer cell line: HCT116. A CCK8 assay was carried out to determine OXA-sensitivity. qRT-PCR, Western blot, Scratch wound healing and transwell assays were used to determine EMT phenotype of colon cells. ZEB1 knockdown using small interfering RNA (siRNA) was used to determine the ZEB1 contribution to OXA-sensitivity in vitro and in vivo (in a nude mice xenograft model).
Result: ZEB1 expression was significantly increased in colon tumor tissue, and was correlated with lymph node metastasis and the depth of invasion. Compared with the parental colon cancer cells (HCT116), HCT116/OXA cells exhibited an EMT phenotype characterized by up-regulated expression of ZEB1, Vimentin, MMP2 and MMP9, but down-regulated expression of E-cadherin. Transfection of Si-ZEB1 into HCT116/OXA cells significantly reversed the EMT phenotype and enhanced OXA-sensitivity in vitro and in vivo.
Conclusion: HCT116/OXA cells acquired an EMT phenotype. ZEB1 knockdown effectively restored OXA-sensitivity by reversing EMT. ZEB1 is a potential therapeutic target for the prevention of OXA-resistance in colon cancer.
Keywords: Colon cancer, Zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1, Oxaliplatin, Chemo-resistance, Epithelial-mesenchymal transition.