HuR is an RNA-binding protein implicated in immune homeostasis and various cancers, including colorectal cancer (CRC). HuR binding to AU-rich elements within the 3' untranslated region of mRNAs encoding oncogenes, growth factors and various cytokines leads message stability and translation. In this study, we evaluated HuR as a small molecule target for preventing CRC in high risk groups such as those with familial adenomatosis polyposis (FAP) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In human specimens, levels of cytoplasmic HuR were increased in colonic epithelial cells from patients with IBD, IBD-cancer, FAP-adenoma and CRC, but not in patients with IBD-dysplasia. Intraperitoneal injection of the HuR small-molecule inhibitor MS-444 in AOM/DSS mice, a model of IBD and inflammatory colon cancer, augmented DSS-induced weight loss and increased tumor multiplicity, size, and invasiveness. MS-444 treatment also abrogated tumor cell apoptosis and depleted tumor-associated eosinophils, accompanied by a decrease in IL-18 and eotaxin-1. In contrast, HuR inhibition in APCMin mice, a model of FAP and colon cancer, diminished the number of small intestinal tumors generated. In this setting, fecal microbiota evaluated by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing shifted to a state of reduced bacterial diversity, with an increased representation of Prevotella, Akkermansia and Lachnospiraceae. Taken together, our results indicate that HuR activation is an early event in FAP-adenoma but is not present in IBD-dysplasia. Further, our results offer a preclinical proof of concept for HuR inhibition as an effective means of FAP chemoprevention, with caution advised in the setting of IBD.
- Received July 1, 2015.
- Revision received January 19, 2017.
- Accepted February 2, 2017.
- Copyright ©2017, American Association for Cancer Research.