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Education and Positions:
  • Ph.D. National Taiwan University

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SAHA Overcomes 5-FU Resistance in IFIT2-Depleted Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma Cells

Dr. Lee, Te-Chang
Cancers, Nov 26, 2020
IFIT2 depletion is associated with increased epithelial-mesenchymal transition and metastasis. The main aim of our study was to understand the link between drug resistance and IFIT2 depletion. In this study, we confirmed resistance to multiple common therapeutic drugs, particularly 5-FU, which showed especially high resistance in IFIT2-depleted cells. Interestingly, combination of SAHA and 5-FU overcame 5-FU resistance in IFIT2-depleted cells. Hence, our findings suggest that IFIT2 expression may be used as a biomarker to decide whether to undergo 5-FU treatment, but also the SAHA and 5-FU combination may be a potential new treatment regimen to augment 5-FU therapy in patients with thymidylate synthase-mediated drug-resistant oral squamous cell carcinoma.


Interferon-induced protein with tetratricopeptide repeats 2 (IFIT2) is a member of the interferon-stimulated gene family that contains tetratricopeptide repeats (TPRs), which mediate protein–protein interactions in various biological systems. We previously showed the depletion of IFIT2 enhanced cell migration and metastatic activity in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cells via the activation of atypical PKC signaling. In this study, we found that IFIT2-knockdown cells displayed higher resistance to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) than control cells. The comet assay and annexin V analysis showed decreased DNA damage and cell death in IFIT2-knockdown cells compared to control cells treated with 5-FU. Cell cycle progression was also perturbed by 5-FU treatment, with the accumulation of IFIT2-depleted cells in S phase in a time-dependent manner. We further observed the overexpression of thymidylate synthase (TS) and thymidine kinase (TK) in IFIT2-knockdown cells. Inhibition of TS alone or double inhibition of TS and TK1 using the siRNA technique increased susceptibility to 5-FU in IFIT2-knockdown cells. We further identified that suberanilohydroxamic acid (SAHA) treatment decreased the expression of TS in IFIT2-knockdown cells and demonstrated that pretreatment with SAHA sensitized IFIT2-knockdown cells to 5-FU in vitro and in vivo. In conclusion, IFIT2 knockdown enhances TS expression, which mediates 5-FU resistance, and SAHA pretreatment suppresses TS expression and hence sensitizes cells to 5-FU. SAHA will be an effective strategy for the treatment of OSCC patients with 5-FU resistance.