Overcoming resistance to chemotherapy and radiation therapy has been a difficult but important goal in the effort to cure cancer. We used gene-expression microarrays to identify differentially expressed genes involved in colorectal cancer resistance to chemotherapy and identified secreted protein, acidic and rich in cysteine (osteonectin) (SPARC) as a putative resistance-reversal gene by demonstrating low SPARC expression in refractory human MIP101 colon cancer cells. We were able to achieve restoration of their radiosensitivity and sensitivity to 5-fluorouracil and irinotecan by reexpression of SPARC in tumor xenografts. Moreover, treatment of mice with SPARC conferred increased sensitivity to chemotherapy and led to significant regression of xenografted tumors. The results show that modulation of SPARC expression affects colorectal cancer sensitivity to radiation and chemotherapy. SPARC-based gene or protein therapy may ameliorate the emergence of resistant clones and eradicate existing refractory clones and offers a novel approach to treating cancer.
Isabella T. Tai, Meiru Dai, David A. Owen, Lan Bo Chen