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01.12.2017 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Molecular Cancer 1/2017

Pregnane X receptor is associated with unfavorable survival and induces chemotherapeutic resistance by transcriptional activating multidrug resistance-related protein 3 in colorectal cancer

Molecular Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2017
Yan Dong, Zhe Wang, Gan-feng Xie, Chong Li, Wen-wei Zuo, Gang Meng, Cheng-ping Xu, Jian-jun Li
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12943-017-0641-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Although chemotherapy represents a predominant anti-cancer therapeutic modality, drug treatment efficacy is often limited due to the development of resistant tumor cells. The pregnane X receptor (PXR) affects chemotherapeutic effects by regulating targets involved in drug metabolism and transportation, but the regulatory mechanism is poorly understood.


Oxaliplatin (L-OHP) content in tumor cells was analyzed by mass cytometry. The roles of PXR on cancer cell proliferation, apoptosis and tumor growth with L-OHP-treated were investigated by MTS, colony formation, flow cytometry and xenograft tumor assays. Luciferase reporter, Chromatin-immunoprecipitation and Site-directed mutagenesis were evaluated the mechanisms. The PXR and multidrug resistance-related protein 3 (MRP3) expressions were examined by western blot, RT-PCR or immunohistochemistry of TMA. Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression were adopted to analyze the prognostic value of PXR in colorectal cancer (CRC).


PXR over-expression significantly increased oxaliplatin (L-OHP) transport capacity with a reduction of its content and repressed the effects of L-OHP on tumour cell proliferation and apoptosis. Conversely, PXR knockdown augments L-OHP-mediated cellular proliferation and apoptosis. Moreover, PXR significantly reduced the therapeutic effects of L-OHP on tumor growth in nude mice. Further studies indicated a positive correlation between PXR and MRP3 expression and this finding was confirmed in two independent cohorts. Significantly increased MRP3 expression was also found in PXR over-expressing cell lines. Mechanistically, PXR could directly bind to the MRP3 promoter, activating its transcription. The PXR binding sites were determined to be at -796 to -782bp (CTGAAGCAGAGGGAA) and the key binding sites were the “AGGGA” (-787 to -783bp) on the MRP3 promoter. Accordingly, blockade of MRP3 diminishes the effects on drug resistance of PXR. In addition, PXR expression is significantly associated with poor overall survival and represents an unfavorable and independent factor for male or stage I + II CRC patient prognosis.


PXR is a potential biomarker for predicting outcome and activates MRP3 transcription by directly binding to its promoter resulting in an increased L-OHP efflux capacity, and resistance to L-OHP or platinum drugs in CRC. Our work reveals a novel and unique mechanism of drug resistance in CRC.
Additional file 1: The primers, clone number, correlation of expression with clinicopathological features, prognostic factors and expression of PXR targets in this study. (DOC 289 kb)
Additional file 2: Database of PXR IHC and clinical characteristics of colorectal cancer patients. (XLSX 20 kb)
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