Journal of hematology & oncology 2018 02 2311(1) 26 doi 10.1186/s13045-018-0577-5
Resistance to tamoxifen (TAM) frequently occurs in the treatment of estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer. Accumulating evidences indicate that transcription factor HOXB13 is of great significance in TAM resistance. However, the regulation of HOXB13 in TAM-resistant breast cancer remains largely unexplored. Here, we were interested in the potential effect of HBXIP, an oncoprotein involved in the acceleration of cancer progression, on the modulation of HOXB13 in TAM resistance of breast cancer.
The Kaplan-Meier plotter cancer database and GEO dataset were used to analyze the association between HBXIP expression and relapse-free survival. The correlation of HBXIP and HOXB13 in ER+ breast cancer was assessed by human tissue microarray. Immunoblotting analysis, qRT-PCR assay, immunofluorescence staining, Co-IP assay, ChIP assay, luciferase reporter gene assay, cell viability assay, and colony formation assay were performed to explore the possible molecular mechanism by which HBXIP modulates HOXB13. Cell viability assay, xenograft assay, and immunohistochemistry staining analysis were utilized to evaluate the effect of the HBXIP/HOXB13 axis on the facilitation of TAM resistance in vitro and in vivo.
The analysis of the Kaplan-Meier plotter and the GEO dataset showed that mono-TAM-treated breast cancer patients with higher HBXIP expression levels had shorter relapse-free survivals than patients with lower HBXIP expression levels. Overexpression of HBXIP induced TAM resistance in ER+ breast cancer cells. The tissue microarray analysis revealed a positive association between the expression levels of HBXIP and HOXB13 in ER+ breast cancer patients. HBXIP elevated HOXB13 protein level in breast cancer cells. Mechanistically, HBXIP prevented chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA)-dependent degradation of HOXB13 via enhancement of HOXB13 acetylation at the lysine 277 residue, causing the accumulation of HOXB13. Moreover, HBXIP was able to act as a co-activator of HOXB13 to stimulate interleukin (IL)-6 transcription in the promotion of TAM resistance. Interestingly, aspirin (ASA) suppressed the HBXIP/HOXB13 axis by decreasing HBXIP expression, overcoming TAM resistance in vitro and in vivo.
Our study highlights that HBXIP enhances HOXB13 acetylation to prevent HOXB13 degradation and co-activates HOXB13 in the promotion of TAM resistance of breast cancer. Therapeutically, ASA can serve as a potential candidate for reversing TAM resistance by inhibiting HBXIP expression.