Ubenimex suppresses Pim-3 kinase expression by targeting CD13 to reverse MDR in HCC cells.

PMID 29069816


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most serious cancers, with rapid progression and high mortality. However, chemotherapy of HCC is hindered by multi-drug resistance (MDR). It is urgent, therefore, to explore new approaches for overcoming MDR of HCC cells. Ubenimex, an inhibitor of CD13, has been used as an immuno-enhancer for treating hematological neoplasms and other solid tumors. Here, we demonstrate that Ubenimex can also reverse MDR in the HCC cell lines HepG2/5-FU and Bel7402/5-FU. Ubenimex inhibits the expression of the proto-oncogene, Pim-3, which is accompanied by decreased expression of BCL-2 and BCL-XL, decreased phosphorylation of Bad, and increased tumor apoptosis. Moreover, Ubenimex decreases expression of the MDR-associated proteins P-gp, MRP3 and MRP2 to enhance intracellular accumulation of Cisplatin, for which down-regulation of Pim-3 is essential. Our results reveal a previously uncharacterized function of Ubenimex in mediating drug resistance in HCC, which suggests that Ubenimex may provide a new strategy to reverse MDR and improve HCC sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs via its effects on Pim-3.