Different transcriptome profiles between human retinoblastoma Y79 cells and an etoposide-resistant subline reveal a chemoresistance mechanism

Wen Ping Song, Si Zheng, Hong Juan Yao, Xiao Fei Zhou, Rui Li, Cheng Yue Zhang, Jun Yang Zhao, Lie Wei Wang, Rong Guang Shao, Liang Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Retinoblastoma (RB) is the most frequent pediatric retinal tumor. In the present study, to elucidate chemoresistance mechanisms and identify potential biomarkers in RB, we utilized RNA sequencing (RNAseq) technological platforms to reveal transcriptome profiles and identify any differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between an etoposide drug-resistant subline (Y79/EDR) and parental Y79 cells. Methods: To test whether Y79/EDR cells showed resistance to antineoplastic agents for RB, we treated the cells with etoposide, carboplatin and vincristine and analyzed them with a Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8). Y79/EDR and parental Y79 cells were used for RNAseq and bioinformatics analysis to enable a genome-wide review of DEGs between the two lines using the DESeq R package (1.10.1). Then, DEG enrichment in Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathways was analyzed with KOBAS software. Next, real-time quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (real time QRT-PCR) and cytotoxicity assays were performed to experimentally and functionally validate the identified candidate biomarkers. Results: Y79/EDR cells showed resistance to etoposide, carboplatin and vincristine at different concentrations. In total, 524 transcripts were differentially expressed in Y79/EDR cells based on analysis of fragments per kilobase of transcript per million fragments mapped (FPKM); among these, 57 genes were downregulated and 467 genes were upregulated in Y79/EDR cells compared to parental Y79 cells. We selected candidate DEGs, including ARHGAP9, HIST1H4H, RELN, DDIT4, HK2, STC1 and PFKFB4, for mRNA expression validation with real time QRT-PCR assays and found that the expression levels determined by real time QRT-PCR were consistent with the RNAseq data. Further studies involving downregulation of ARHGAP9 with a specific siRNA showed that ARHGAP9 altered the cellular sensitivity of Y79 cells to etoposide and carboplatin. Conclusion: Our initial findings provided a genomic view of the transcription profiles of etoposide-induced acquired resistance in RB. Follow-up studies indicated that ARHGAP9 might be a chemoresistance biomarker in RB, providing insight into potential therapeutic targets for overcoming acquired chemoresistance in RB. These findings can aid in understanding and overcoming chemoresistance during treatment of RB in the clinic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number92
JournalBMC Ophthalmology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 6 2020


  • Chemoresistance
  • Differentially expressed genes (DEGs)
  • RNA sequencing (RNAseq)
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Transcriptome profile
  • Y79/EDR resistant subline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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