Although gemcitabine is the most commonly used drug for treating pancreatic cancers, acquired gemcitabine resistance in a substantial number of patients appears to hinder its effectiveness in successful treatment of this dreadful disease. To understand acquired gemcitabine resistance, we generated a gemcitabine-resistant pancreatic cancer cell line using stepwise selection and found that, in addition to the known mechanisms of upregulated expression of ribonucleotide reductase, 14-3-3σ expression is dramatically upregulated, and that 14-3-3σ overexpression contributes to the acquired resistance to gemcitabine and cross-resistance to cytarabine. We also found that the increased 14-3-3σ expression in the gemcitabine-resistant cells is due to demethylation of the 14-3-3σ gene during gemcitabine selection, which could be partially reversed with removal of the gemcitabine selection pressure. Most importantly, the reversible methylation/demethylation of the 14-3-3σ gene appears to be carried out by DNA methyltransferase 1 under regulation by Uhrf1. These findings suggest that the epigenetic regulation of gene expression may play an important role in gemcitabine resistance, and that epigenetic modification is reversible in response to gemcitabine treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine