Research Papers:

NHE9 induces chemoradiotherapy resistance in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma by upregulating the Src/Akt/β-catenin pathway and Bcl-2 expression

Junying Chen _, Hong Yang, Jing Wen, Kongjia Luo, Qianwen Liu, Yijie Huang, Yuzhen Zheng, Zihui Tan, Qinyuan Huag and Jianhua Fu

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:12405-12420. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3618

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Junying Chen1,2, Hong Yang1,2, Jing Wen1,2, Kongjia Luo1,2, Qianwen Liu1,2, Yijie Huang3, Yuzhen Zheng1,2, Zihui Tan1,2, Qingyuan Huang1,2, Jianhua Fu1,2

1Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Collaborative Innovation Center for Cancer Medicine, Guangzhou, China

2Guangdong Esophageal Cancer Institute, Guangzhou, China

3Guangdong General Hospital, Guangdong Academy of Medical Sciences, Guangzhou, China

Correspondence to:

Jianhua Fu, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: NHE9, esophageal cancer, chemoradiotherapy, Src, Bcl-2

Received: February 14, 2015     Accepted: March 14, 2015     Published: April 10, 2015


Recently, we found that NHE9 mRNA was upregulated in chemoradiotherapy (CRT)-resistant esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC); however, the underlying mechanisms were unclear. Here, we aimed to clarify the functional contribution of NHE9 to CRT resistance, understand the molecular basis of NHE9-dependent resistance in ESCC, and identify potential therapeutic targets. Our results showed that NHE9 prevented CRT-induced apoptosis. Importantly, we found that RACK1 is a novel binding partner of NHE9 and that NHE9-dependent induction of CRT resistance requires the activation of RACK1-associated Src/Akt/β-catenin signaling. Moreover, upregulated Bcl-2 protein was also observed in cells exhibiting NHE9-induced CRT resistance. A higher NHE9 level was associated with a poor response to CRT and less decrease in T and N stage in ESCC patients. Furthermore, combining either Dasatinib or ABT-737 with CRT significantly reduced tumor volume, and the response to CRT was restored when these inhibitors were used together with CRT in a xenograft nude mouse model with NHE9 overexpression. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that NHE9 can be an effective predictor of CRT response and may be useful in the development of targeted therapies for CRT-resistant ESCC.

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