We aimed to discover cell line-specific overexpressed HOX genes responsible for chemoresistance and to identify the mechanisms behind HOX-induced cell line-specific chemoresistance in EOC. Ten HOX genes and eight EOC cell lines were tested for any cell line-specific overexpression that presents a mutually exclusive pattern. Cell viability was evaluated after treatment with cisplatin and/or siRNA for cell line-specific overexpressed HOX genes. Immunohistochemical (IHC) staining for HOXB9 was performed in 84 human EOC tissues. HOXA10 and HOXB9 were identified as cell line-specific overexpressed HOX genes for SKOV-3 and RMUG-S, respectively. Inhibiting the expression of cell line-specific HOX genes, but not of other HOX genes, significantly decreased cell viability. In SKOV-3 cells, cell viability decreased to 46.5% after initial 10 µM cisplatin treatment; however, there was no further decrease upon additional treatment with HOXA10 siRNA. In contrast, cell viability did not significantly decrease upon cisplatin treatment in RMUG-S cells, but decreased to 65.5% after additional treatment with HOXB9 siRNA. In both cell lines, inhibiting cell line-specific HOX expression enhanced apoptosis but suppressed the expression of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers such as vimentin, MMP9, and Oct4. IHC analysis showed that platinum-resistant cancer tissues more frequently had high HOXB9 expression than platinum-sensitive cancer tissues. HOXB9, which is overexpressed in RMUG-S but not in SKOV-3 cells, appeared to be associated with cell line-specific platinum resistance in RMUG-S. Inhibiting HOXB9 overexpression in RMUG-S cells may effectively eliminate platinum-resistant ovarian cancer cells by facilitating apoptosis and inhibiting EMT.
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine published by Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.