• A Molecular Basis of Chemoresistance in Bladder Cancer

      Lahorewala, Sarrah; Biochemistry and Cancer Biology (Augusta University, 2020-12)
      Background: In advanced bladder cancer (BC), development of resistance to the frontline chemotherapeutic drugs Gemcitabine and Cisplatin contributes to the poor prognosis of patients. Newly discovered chondroitinase, HYAL-4 V1 (V1), drives malignant transformation in BC. We evaluated V1’s role and the downstream molecules involved in the mechanistic regulation of chemoresistance in BC. Experimental Design: HYAL-4 expression was evaluated by RT-qPCR and IHC in metastatic muscle-invasive BC patients who received Gemcitabine plus Cisplatin chemotherapy. HYAL-4 wild-type and V1 were stably expressed or silenced in three BC and one normal urothelial cell line. Transfectants were analyzed for Gemcitabine and Cisplatin sensitivity, and for Gemcitabine influx and efflux to determine the mechanism of Gemcitabine resistance. The effect of cytidine deaminase (CDA) inhibition on Gemcitabine sensitivity was evaluated in vitro and in xenograft models. Results: HYAL-4 expression was an independent predictor of disease-specific mortality and treatment failure in our clinical cohort, and stratified patients into higher risk for both those outcomes. V1-expressing BC and normal urothelial cells were resistant to Gemcitabine due to the upregulation of cytidine deaminase (CDA) expression and activity, resulting in increased Gemcitabine metabolism and efflux; treating cells with tetrahydrouridine (THU), a CDA inhibitor, abrogated the chemotherapeutic resistance. Gemcitabine-resistant V1 cells demonstrated increased expression of V1’s substrate CD44 and phosphorylated STAT3. Si-RNA mediated CD44 knockdown and STAT3 inhibition both sensitized cells to Gemcitabine in vitro. In xenograft models, treatment with a combination of Gemcitabine and THU completely inhibited tumor growth. Conclusions: This project discovered V1 as a novel determinant of Gemcitabine resistance and potential predictor of treatment response in BC. V1 drives resistance to Gemcitabine through CD44-STAT3 mediated upregulation of CDA, and inhibiting this pathway sensitizes tumor cells to the therapy in preclinical models of BC.