Overcoming drug resistance is an inevitable challenge to the success of cancer treatment. Recently, in ovarian cancer, a highly chemoresistant tumor, we demonstrated an important role of shear stress in stem-like phenotype and chemoresistance using a three-dimensional microfluidic device, which most closely mimics tumor behavior. Here, we examined a new mechanosensitive microRNA—miR-199a-3p. Unlike most key microRNA biogenesis in static conditions, we found that Dicer, Drosha, and Exportin 5 were not involved in regulating miR-199a-3p under ascitic fluid shear stress (0.02 dynes/cm2). We further showed that hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), but not other ascitic cytokines/growth factors such as epidermal growth factor and tumor necrosis factor α or hypoxia, could transcriptionally downregulate miR-199a-3p through its primary transcript miR-199a-1 and not miR-199a-2. Shear stress in the presence of HGF resulted in a concerted effect via a specific c-Met/PI3K/Akt signaling axis through a positive feedback loop, thereby driving cancer stemness and drug resistance. We also showed that miR-199a-3p expression was inversely correlated with enhanced drug resistance properties in chemoresistant ovarian cancer lines. Patients with low miR-199a-3p expression were more resistant to platinum with a significantly poor prognosis. miR-199a-3p mimic significantly suppressed ovarian tumor metastasis and its co-targeting in combination with cisplatin or paclitaxel further decreased the peritoneal dissemination of ovarian cancer in mice. These findings unravel how biophysical and biochemical cues regulate miR-199a-3p and is important in chemoresistance. miR-199a-3p mimics may serve as a novel targeted therapy for effective chemosensitization.
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