HuR silencing elicits oxidative stress and DNA damage and sensitizes human triple-negative breast cancer cells to radiotherapy

Meghna Mehta, Kanthesh Basalingappa, James N. Griffith, Daniel Andrade, Anish Babu, Narsireddy Amreddy, Ranganayaki Muralidharan, Myriam Gorospe, Terence Herman, Wei Qun Ding, Rajagopal Ramesh, Anupama Munshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


HuR is an mRNA-binding protein whose overexpression in cancer cells has been associated with poor prognosis and resistance to therapy. While reports on HuR overexpression contributing to chemoresistance exist, limited information is available on HuR and radioresistance especially in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). In this study we investigated the role of HuR in radiation resistance in three TNBC (MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468 and Hs578t) cell lines. Endogenous HuR expression was higher in TNBC cells compared to normal cells. siRNA mediated knockdown of HuR (siHuR) markedly reduced HuR mRNA and protein levels compared to scrambled siRNA (siScr) treatment. Further, siHuR treatment sensitized TNBC cells to ionizing radiation at 2 Gy compared to siScr treatment as evidenced by the significant reduction in clonogenic cell survival from 59%, 49%, and 65% in siScr-treated cells to 40%, 33%, and 46% in siHuR-treated MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468 and Hs578t cells, respectively. Molecular studies showed increased ROS production and inhibition of thioredoxin reductase (TrxR) in HuR knockdown cells contributed to radiosensitization. Associated with increased ROS production was evidence of increased DNA damage, demonstrated by a significant increase (p < 0.05) in γ-H2AX foci that persisted for up to 24 h in siHuR plus radiation treated cells compared to control cells. Further, comet assay revealed that HuR-silenced cells had larger and longer-lasting tails than control cells, indicating higher levels of DNA damage. In conclusion, our studies demonstrate that HuR knockdown in TNBC cells elicits oxidative stress and DNA damage resulting in radiosensitization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64820-64835
Number of pages16
Issue number40
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • DNA repair
  • HuR
  • Oxidative stress
  • Radiation
  • SiRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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