Author(s): Saxena M, Stephens MA, Pathak H, Rangarajan A
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Abstract Development of multidrug resistance (MDR) is a major deterrent in the effective treatment of metastatic cancers by chemotherapy. Even though MDR and cancer invasiveness have been correlated, the molecular basis of this link remains obscure. We show here that treatment with chemotherapeutic drugs increases the expression of several ATP binding cassette transporters (ABC transporters) associated with MDR, as well as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers, selectively in invasive breast cancer cells, but not in immortalized or non-invasive cells. Interestingly, the mere induction of an EMT in immortalized and non-invasive cell lines increased their expression of ABC transporters, migration, invasion, and drug resistance. Conversely, reversal of EMT in invasive cells by downregulating EMT-inducing transcription factors reduced their expression of ABC transporters, invasion, and rendered them more chemosensitive. Mechanistically, we demonstrate that the promoters of ABC transporters carry several binding sites for EMT-inducing transcription factors, and overexpression of Twist, Snail, and FOXC2 increases the promoter activity of ABC transporters. Furthermore, chromatin immunoprecipitation studies revealed that Twist binds directly to the E-box elements of ABC transporters. Thus, our study identifies EMT inducers as novel regulators of ABC transporters, thereby providing molecular insights into the long-standing association between invasiveness and MDR. Targeting EMT transcription factors could hence serve as novel strategies to curb both metastasis and the associated drug resistance.
This article was published in Cell Death Dis
and referenced in Journal of Cancer Science & Therapy