Hypoxia-induced downregulation of B-cell translocation gene 3 confers resistance to radiation therapy of colorectal cancer

Colorectal Cancer

Ma D, et al. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 2020.


BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is now a major human cancer, and B-cell translocation gene 3 (BTG3) has been reported as a tumor-suppressor in CRC, but its upstream regulator has not been identified.

METHODS: Endogenous expression levels of BTG3 were compared between normal colorectal cell line CCD-18Co and two CRC cell lines SW480 and HT29, as well as between CRC patient tumor and adjacent normal tissues. Analysis of BTG3 genomic region was performed which identified a putative hypoxia response element (HRE). Effects of hypoxia condition, BTG3 overexpression, and their combination on the radiation sensitivity of CRC cell lines were assessed.

RESULTS: BTG3 was downregulated in CRC cell lines and patient tumor samples, via the HRE in its promoter region. Hypoxia and BTG3 overexpression could both induce radiation resistance in CRC cells. Combining hypoxia with BTG3 overexpression effectively rendered the resistance of CRC cells to radiation to a level lower than hypoxia alone and higher than normoxia alone, indicating the essential role of BTG3 in hypoxia-induced radiation resistance of CRC cells.

CONCLUSION: We therefore propose a novel signaling cascade involving hypoxia/BTG3 to be a potential risk factor for CRC patients undergoing radiation therapy, which could possibly serve as therapeutic targets among CRC patients with acquired radiotherapy resistance.