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This article is the author’s final published version in Cancer Cell International, Volume 21, Issue 1, October 2021, Article number 542.

The published version is available at Copyright © Jiang et al.


Background: Chemoresistance is a critical risk problem for breast cancer treatment. However, mechanisms by which chemoresistance arises remains to be elucidated. The expression of T-box transcription factor 15 (TBX-15) was found downregulated in some cancer tissues. However, role and mechanism of TBX15 in breast cancer chemoresistance is unknown. Here we aimed to identify the effects and mechanisms of TBX15 in doxorubicin resistance in breast cancer.

Methods: As measures of Drug sensitivity analysis, MTT and IC50 assays were used in DOX-resistant breast cancer cells. ECAR and OCR assays were used to analyze the glycolysis level, while Immunoblotting and Immunofluorescence assays were used to analyze the autophagy levels in vitro. By using online prediction software, luciferase reporter assays, co-Immunoprecipitation, Western blotting analysis and experimental animals models, we further elucidated the mechanisms.

Results: We found TBX15 expression levels were decreased in Doxorubicin (DOX)-resistant breast cancer cells. Overexpression of TBX15 reversed the DOX resistance by inducing microRNA-152 (miR-152) expression. We found that KIF2C levels were highly expressed in DOX-resistant breast cancer tissues and cells, and KIF2C was a potential target of miR-152. TBX15 and miR-152 overexpression suppressed autophagy and glycolysis in breast cancer cells, while KIF2C overexpression reversed the process. Overexpression of KIF2C increased DOX resistance in cancer cells. Furthermore, KIF2C directly binds with PKM2 for inducing the DOX resistance. KIF2C can prevent the ubiquitination of PKM2 and increase its protein stability. In addition, we further identified that Domain-2 of KIF2C played a major role in the binding with PKM2 and preventing PKM2 ubiquitination, which enhanced DOX resistance by promoting autophagy and glycolysis.

Conclusions: Our data identify a new mechanism by which TBX15 abolishes DOX chemoresistance in breast cancer, and suggest that TBX15/miR-152/KIF2C axis is a novel signaling pathway for mediating DOX resistance in breast cancer through regulating PKM2 ubiquitination and decreasing PKM2 stability. This finding suggests new therapeutic target and/or novel strategy development for cancer treatment to overcome drug resistance in the future.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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