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Suppression of oncogenic protein translation via targeting eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E overcomes chemo-resistance in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Xu, Mingfang, Tao, Zezhang, Wang, Shuai, Jiang, Yidao, Qu, Mei
Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2019 v.512 no.4 pp. 902-907
adjuvants, animal models, antiviral agents, apoptosis, carcinoma, cisplatin, drug therapy, gene expression regulation, mice, oncogenes, toxicity
Resistance to adjuvant chemotherapy remains therapeutic challenge in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). In this work, we demonstrate that targeting eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) is a potential sensitizing strategy to overcome chemoresistance in NPC. We observe the aberrant activation of eIF4E and translational upregulation of eIF4E-regulated oncogenes in NPC cell after pro-longed exposure of cisplatin. Functional analysis demonstrates that eIF4E depletion effectively inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in cisplatin-resistant NPC cells. Consistently, eIF4E knockdown significantly enhances cisplatin efficacy in cisplatin-sensitive cells. We identify eIF4E as a therapeutically actionable targets by showing that ribavirin, an anti-viral drug, phenocopies the effects of eIF4E knockdown in NPC. We further demonstrate that ribavirin acts on chemoresistant NPC cells through suppressing eIF4E activity and oncogenic protein translation. Using two independent NPC xenograft mouse models, we show that ribavirin not only is effective in inhibiting chemoresistant NPC growth but also significantly augments the inhibitory effects of cisplatin efficacy in vivo without causing significant toxicity in mice. Taken together, our work shows an activation of eIF4E-mediated growth and survival mechanisms in response to chemotherapy and suggests that inhibition of eIF4E activity represents an attractive sensitizing strategy for NPC treatment. Our findings also suggest that ribavirin is a useful addition to the treatment armamentarium for NPC.