NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer) often exhibits resistance to paclitaxel treatment. Identifying the elements regulating paclitaxel response will advance efforts to overcome such resistance in NSCLC therapy. Using in vitro approaches, we demonstrated that over-expression of the microRNA miR-337-3p sensitizes NCI-H1155 cells to paclitaxel, and that miR-337-3p mimic has a general effect on paclitaxel response in NSCLC cell lines, which may provide a novel adjuvant strategy to paclitaxel in the treatment of lung cancer. By combining in vitro and in silico approaches, we identified STAT3 and RAP1A as direct targets that mediate the effect of miR-337-3p on paclitaxel sensitivity. Further investigation showed that miR-337-3p mimic also sensitizes cells to docetaxel, another member of the taxane family, and that STAT3 levels are significantly correlated with taxane resistance in lung cancer cell lines, suggesting that endogenous STAT3 expression is a determinant of intrinsic taxane resistance in lung cancer. The identification of a miR-337-3p as a modulator of cellular response to taxanes, and STAT3 and RAP1A as regulatory targets which mediate that response, defines a novel regulatory pathway modulating paclitaxel sensitivity in lung cancer cells, which may provide novel adjuvant strategies along with paclitaxel in the treatment of lung cancer and may also provide biomarkers for predicting paclitaxel response in NSCLC.
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