Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is one of the most lethal urological tumors. Using sunitinib to improve the survival has become the first-line therapy for metastatic RCC patients. However, the occurrence of sunitinib resistance in the clinical application has curtailed its efficacy. Here we found TR4 nuclear receptor might alter the sunitinib resistance to RCC via altering the TR4/lncTASR/AXL signaling. Mechanism dissection revealed that TR4 could modulate lncTASR (ENST00000600671.1) expression via transcriptional regulation, which might then increase AXL protein expression via enhancing the stability of AXL mRNA to increase the sunitinib resistance in RCC. Human clinical surveys also linked the expression of TR4, lncTASR, and AXL to the RCC survival, and results from multiple RCC cell lines revealed that targeting this newly identified TR4-mediated signaling with small molecules, including tretinoin, metformin, or TR4-shRNAs, all led to increase the sunitinib sensitivity to better suppress the RCC progression, and our preclinical study using the in vivo mouse model further proved tretinoin had a better synergistic effect to increase sunitinib sensitivity to suppress RCC progression. Future successful clinical trials may help in the development of a novel therapy to better suppress the RCC progression.
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