HOTAIR induces EGFR-TKIs resistance in non-small cell lung cancer through epithelial-mesenchymal transition

Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer. 2020 Jul 2;147:99-105. doi: 10.1016/j.lungcan.2020.06.037. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: Previous research found that HOTAIR, a long non-coding RNA, is aberrantly expressed and associated with tumor invasion, metastasis and chemo-resistance in many cancers. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of HOTAIR in resistance of EGFR-TKIs in NSCLC.

METHODS: HOTAIR expression level was detected by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) in NSCLC cell lines or tumor tissues. A total of 62 samples with EGFR-mutant and EGFR-TKI-sensitive NSCLCs, 42 with acquired resistance and 27 with primary resistance to EGFR-TKIs were analyzed. The effect of HOTAIR on cell proliferation and apoptosis was undergone by CCK-8 and flow cytometry assays. The expression of EMT proteins was assessed by western blot.

RESULTS: HOTAIR was significantly down-regulated in lung cancer cells (PC9/R, H1975, H1299 and A549) and patients with primary and acquired resistance to EGFR-TKIs. In clinical setting, high levels of HOTAIR expression was significantly correlated with longer progression-free survival (PFS) [P < 0.01] compared with low HOTAIR expression subgroup in tumors which respond to EGFR-TKIs. In vitro, over-expression HOTAIR could restore gefitinib sensitivity in gefitinib-resistant cells (PC9/R, H1299 and A549), but this change in sensitivity was not observed in H1975. Up-regulated HOTAIR induced cell apoptosis in PC9/R, H1299 and A549, and activated epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT).

CONCLUSIONS: HOTAIR expression was associated with primary and acquired resistance to EGFR-TKIs and could regulate cell proliferation through activating cell apoptosis and EMT, which suggest that HOTAIR might be able to act as a biomarker to predict the EGFR-TKIs resistance.