Affiliation: Division of Cellular and Molecular Research, National Cancer Centre Singapore, 11 Hospital Drive, Singapore 169610.
Drug resistance is one of the major reasons for the failure of cancer therapies. Although our understanding of resistance to targeted cancer drugs remains incomplete, new and more creative approaches are being exploited to intercept this phenomenon. Considerable advances have been made in our understanding that cancer drug resistance can be caused by alterations of drug efflux, increases in drug metabolism, mutations of drug targets, alterations in DNA repair and cell cycle, changes in cell apoptosis and autophagy, induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and the generation of cancer stem cells (CSCs). Furthermore, intracellular signalling pathways have been shown to play key physiological roles and the abnormal activation of signalling pathways may be correlated with drug resistance. Recently, noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), including microRNAs (miRNAs) and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), have emerged as important regulators of gene expression and alternative splicing, which provides cells with yet another mode to greatly increase regulatory complexity and fine-tune their transcriptome and can rapidly adjust their proteome in response to stimuli. Consequently, a wide variety of biological functions have been shown to depend on the coordinated interactions between noncoding RNAs and cellular signalling networks to achieve a concerted desired physiological outcome, whereas mutations and dysregulation of ncRNAs have been linked to diverse human diseases, including cancer drug resistance. In this review, we will discuss recent findings on the multiple molecular roles of regulatory ncRNAs on the signalling pathways involved in cancer drug resistance and the therapeutic potential of reverse drug resistance.