Research Papers:

miR-708-5p enhances erlotinib/paclitaxel efficacy and overcomes chemoresistance in lung cancer cells

Nicholas J. Monteleone and Carol S. Lutz _

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Oncotarget. 2020; 11:4699-4721. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27840

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Nicholas J. Monteleone1 and Carol S. Lutz1

1 Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Molecular Genetics, Rutgers Biomedical & Health Sciences, New Jersey Medical School, School of Graduate Studies, Newark, NJ 07103, USA

Correspondence to:

Carol S. Lutz,email: [email protected]

Keywords: miR-708-5p; miR-708; erlotinib; paclitaxel; chemoresistance

Received: October 09, 2020     Accepted: November 23, 2020     Published: December 22, 2020

Copyright: © 2020 Monteleone and Lutz. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Lung cancer is a collection of aggressive tumors generally not diagnosed until late-stage, resulting in high mortality rates. The vast majority of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients undergo combinatory chemotherapeutic treatment, which initially reduces tumor growth, but frequently becomes ineffective due to toxicity and resistance. Researchers have identified multiple signaling pathways involved in lung cancer chemoresistance, including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)/microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1 (mPGES-1) derived prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). While COX-2 inhibitors have shown promise in the clinic, their use is limited due to severe side effects. One novel approach to effectively suppress COX-2 signaling is through microRNA (miRNA). MiRNAs are small-noncoding RNAs commonly misexpressed in cancer. One tumor suppressive miRNA, miR-708-5p, has been shown to repress pro-resistant signaling pathways, including COX-2 and mPGES-1. Here, we demonstrate that chemotherapies reduce COX-2 expression, possibly through induction of miR-708-5p. Moreover, combination treatment of erlotinib (ERL) or paclitaxel (PAC) with miR-708-5p enhances COX-2 and mPGES-1 protein suppression. We also show that combination chemotherapeutic and miR-708-5p treatment intensifies the anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects of ERL and PAC. We also created ERL and PAC resistant lung cancer cell lines, which have increased COX-2 expression and diminished miR-708-5p levels compared to naïve lung cancer cells. While ERL and PAC treatments do not alter resistant cell phenotype alone, combination treatment with miR-708-5p partially restores the chemotherapies’ anti-proliferative effects and fully restores their pro-apoptotic qualities. These data suggest miR-708-5p may have potential combinatory therapeutic value to more efficaciously treat lung tumors while overcoming chemoresistance.

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