miR-27a is a master regulator of metabolic reprogramming and chemoresistance in colorectal cancer

Giovannina Barisciano, Tommaso Colangelo, Valeria Rosato, Livio Muccillo, Maria Letizia Taddei, Luigi Ippolito, Paola Chiarugi, Mario Galgani, Sara Bruzzaniti, Giuseppe Matarese, Matteo Fassan, Marco Agostini, Francesca Bergamo, Salvatore Pucciarelli, Annalucia Carbone, Gianluigi Mazzoccoli, Vittorio Colantuoni, Fabrizio Bianchi, Lina Sabatino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Metabolic reprogramming towards aerobic glycolysis in cancer supports unrestricted cell proliferation, survival and chemoresistance. The molecular bases of these processes are still undefined. Recent reports suggest crucial roles for microRNAs. Here, we provide new evidence of the implication of miR-27a in modulating colorectal cancer (CRC) metabolism and chemoresistance. Methods: A survey of miR-27a expression profile in TCGA-COAD dataset revealed that miR-27a-overexpressing CRCs are enriched in gene signatures of mitochondrial dysfunction, deregulated oxidative phosphorylation, mTOR activation and reduced chemosensitivity. The same pathways were analysed in cell lines in which we modified miR-27a levels. The response to chemotherapy was investigated in an independent cohort and cell lines. Results: miR-27a upregulation in vitro associated with impaired oxidative phosphorylation, overall mitochondrial activities and slight influence on glycolysis. miR-27a hampered AMPK, enhanced mTOR signalling and acted in concert with oncogenes and tumour cell metabolic regulators to force an aerobic glycolytic metabolism supporting biomass production, unrestricted growth and chemoresistance. This latter association was confirmed in our cohort of patients and cell lines. Conclusions: We disclose an unprecedented role for miR-27a as a master regulator of cancer metabolism reprogramming that impinges on CRC response to chemotherapy, underscoring its theragnostic properties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1354-1366
Number of pages13
JournalBr. J. Cancer
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Apr 28 2020

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