Hypoxia induces chemoresistance of esophageal cancer cells to cisplatin through regulating the lncRNA-EMS/miR-758-3p/WTAP axis

Hypoxia contributes significantly to the development of chemoresistance of many malignancies including esophageal cancer (EC). Accumulating studies have indicated that long non-coding RNAs play important roles in chemotherapy resistance. Here, we identified a novel lncRNA-EMS/miR-758-3p/WTAP axis that was involved in hypoxia-mediated chemoresistance to cisplatin in human EC. Hypoxia induced the expressions of lncRNA EMS and WTAP, and reduced the expression of miR-758-3p in EC cell line ECA-109. In addition, the expressions of EMS and WTAP were required for the hypoxia-induced drug resistance to cisplatin in EC cells, while overexpression of miR-758-3p reversed such chemoresistance. The targeting relationships between EMS and miR-758-3p, as well as miR-758-3p and WTAP, were verified by luciferase-based reporter assays and multiple quantitative assays after gene overexpression/knockdown. Moreover, we found significant correlations between tumor expressions of these molecules. Notably, higher levels of EMS/WTAP, or lower levels of miR-758-3p in tumors predicted worse survivals of EC patients. Furthermore, in a xenograft mouse model, targeted knockdown of EMS and WTAP in ECA-109 cells markedly attenuated the resistance of tumors to cisplatin treatments. Our study uncovers a critical lncRNA-EMS/miR-758-3p/WTAP axis in regulating hypoxia-mediated drug resistance to cisplatin in EC.

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