Transforming growth factor β mediates drug resistance by regulating the expression of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 in colorectal cancer

Yang Zhang, Yi Zhang, Liying Geng, Haowei Yi, Wei Huo, Geoffrey Talmon, Yeong C. Kim, San Ming Wang, Jing Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Drug resistance is one of the main causes of colon cancer recurrence. However, our understanding of the underlying mechanisms and availability of therapeutic options remains limited. Here we show that expression of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4) is positively correlated with drug resistance of colon cancer cells and induced by 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) treatment in drug-resistant but not drug-sensitive cells. Knockdown of PDK4 expression sensitizes colon cancer cells to 5-FU or oxaliplatin-induced apoptosis in vitro and increases the effectiveness of 5-FU in the inhibition of tumor growth in a mouse xenograft model in vivo. In addition, we demonstrate for the first time that TGFβ mediates drug resistance by regulating PDK4 expression and that 5-FU induces PDK4 expression in a TGFβ signaling-dependent manner. Mechanistically, knockdown or inhibition of PDK4 significantly increases the inhibitory effect of 5-FU on expression of the anti-apoptotic factors Bcl-2 and survivin. Importantly, studies of patient samples indicate that expression of PDK4 and phosphorylation of Smad2, an indicator of TGFβ pathway activation, show a strong correlation and that both positively associate with chemoresistance in colorectal cancer. These findings indicate that the TGFβ/PDK4 signaling axis plays an important role in the response of colorectal cancer to chemotherapy. A major implication of our studies is that inhibition of PDK4 may have considerable therapeutic potential to overcome drug resistance in colorectal cancer patients, which warrants the development of PDK4-specific inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17405-17416
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume291
Issue number33
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 12 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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