Cancer-associated fibroblast-derived miR-146a-5p generates a niche that promotes bladder cancer stemness and chemoresistance.

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Cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) play pivotal roles in both chemoresistance and recurrence of many cancer types, including urothelial bladder cancer (UBC). In addition to intrinsic signaling pathways, extracellular cues from the tumor microenvironment (TME) are indispensable for the maintenance of CSCs. To better understand the mechanisms involved in TME-mediated generation and support of UBC CSCs, we focused on the role of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in this study. Overexpression of miR-146a-5p in CAFs promoted CAF-to-UBC cell interactions, cancer stemness, and chemoresistance to treatment with gemcitabine and cisplatin. Mechanistically, miR-146-5p upregulated SVEP1 in CAFs by enhancing the recruitment of transcriptional factor YY1. Meanwhile, by targeting the 3'UTR of mRNAs of ARID1A and PRKAA2 (also known as AMPKα2) in UBC cells, CAF-secreted miR-146a-5p promoted cancer stemness and chemoresistance. Downregulation of ARID1A resulted in the inhibition of SOCS1 and subsequent STAT3 activation, and downregulated PRKAA2 led to the activation of mTOR signaling. Elevated levels of exosomal miR-146a-5p in the serum of UBC patients were correlated with both tumor stage and relapse risk. These findings altogether indicate that CAF-derived miR-146a-5p can promote stemness and enhance chemoresistance in UBC. Exosomal miR-146a-5p may be a biomarker of UBC recurrence and a potential therapeutic target.

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Cancer Research

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This article was published in Cancer Research.

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Copyright © 2023 American Association for Cancer Research.

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