Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Enhanced expression of DNA polymerase eta contributes to cisplatin resistance of ovarian cancer stem cells.

PMID 25831546


Cancer stem cells (CSCs) with enhanced tumorigenicity and chemoresistance are believed to be responsible for treatment failure and tumor relapse in ovarian cancer patients. However, it is still unclear how CSCs survive DNA-damaging agent treatment. Here, we report an elevated expression of DNA polymerase η (Pol η) in ovarian CSCs isolated from both ovarian cancer cell lines and primary tumors, indicating that CSCs may have intrinsically enhanced translesion DNA synthesis (TLS). Down-regulation of Pol η blocked cisplatin-induced CSC enrichment both in vitro and in vivo through the enhancement of cisplatin-induced apoptosis in CSCs, indicating that Pol η-mediated TLS contributes to the survival of CSCs upon cisplatin treatment. Furthermore, our data demonstrated a depletion of miR-93 in ovarian CSCs. Enforced expression of miR-93 in ovarian CSCs reduced Pol η expression and increased their sensitivity to cisplatin. Taken together, our data suggest that ovarian CSCs have intrinsically enhanced Pol η-mediated TLS, allowing CSCs to survive cisplatin treatment, leading to tumor relapse. Targeting Pol η, probably through enhancement of miR-93 expression, might be exploited as a strategy to increase the efficacy of cisplatin treatment.