ETS-1 induces Sorafenib-resistance in hepatocellular carcinoma cells via regulating transcription factor activity of PXR

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Transcription factor E26 transformation specific sequence 1 (ETS-1) is a primary regulator in the metastasis of human cancer cells, especially hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells; and it would affect the prognosis of HCC patients who received chemotherapies. However, the regulatory role of ETS-1 in the resistance of HCC cells to molecular-targeting agent remains poorly understood. In the present work, we demonstrate that high ETS-1 expression correlates with poor prognosis of advanced HCC patients received Sorafenib treatment. Mechanistically, ETS-1 binds to nuclear Pregnane X receptor (PXR) directly and enhances PXR’s transcription factor activity, which further leads to the induction of the PXR’s downstream multi-drug resistance related genes. Overexpression of ETS-1 accelerates the metabolic clearance of Sorafenib in HCC cells and leads to the better survival and faster migration of those cells. The therapeutic studies show that ETS-1 promotes the Sorafenib-resistance of HCC tumor models and ETS-1 blockade enhances the anti-tumor capacity of Sorafenib by decreasing PXR activation. Thus, our study suggests that ETS-1 could enhance the activation of PXR and be a potential therapeutic target for overcoming Sorafenib resistance in HCC treatment.

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