miRNA-34a is associated with docetaxel resistance in human breast cancer cells

Lena Kastl, Iain Brown, Andrew Craig Schofield

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160 Citations (Scopus)


Docetaxel is a chemotherapy drug to treat breast cancer, however as with many chemotherapeutic drugs resistance to docetaxel occurs in 50% of patients, and the underlying molecular mechanisms of drug resistance are not fully understood. Gene regulation through microRNAs (miRNA) has been shown to play an important role in cancer drug resistance. By directly targeting mRNA, miRNAs are able to inhibit genes that are necessary for signalling pathways or drug induced apoptosis rendering cells drug resistant. This study investigated the role of differential miRNA expression in two in vitro breast cancer cell line models (MCF-7, MDA-MB-231) of acquired docetaxel resistance. MiRNA microarray analysis identified 299 and 226 miRNAs altered in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 docetaxel-resistant cells, respectively. Docetaxel resistance was associated with increased expression of miR-34a and miR-141 and decreased expression of miR-7, miR-16, miR-30a, miR-125a-5p, miR-126. Computational target prediction revealed eight candidate genes targeted by these miRNAs. Quantitative PCR and western analysis confirmed decreased expression of two genes, BCL-2 and CCND1, in docetaxel-resistant cells, which are both targeted by miR-34a. Modulation of miR-34a expression was correlated with BCL-2 and cyclin D1 protein expression changes and a direct interaction of miR-34a with BCL-2 was shown by luciferase assay. Inhibition of miR-34a enhanced response to docetaxel in MCF-7 docetaxel-resistant cells, whereas overexpression of miR-34a conferred resistance in MCF-7 docetaxel-sensitive cells. This study is the first to show differences in miRNA expression, in particular, increased expression of miR-34a in an acquired model of docetaxel resistance in breast cancer. This serves as a mechanism of acquired docetaxel resistance in these cells, possibly through direct interactions with BCL-2 and CCND1, therefore presenting a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of docetaxel-resistant breast cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445–454
Number of pages10
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
Early online date12 Mar 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • breast cancer cells
  • Docetaxel
  • drug resistance
  • miRNA


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