Colorectal cancer (CRC) is often diagnosed at later stages after it has metastasized to other organs. The development of chemoresistance also contributes to a poor prognosis. Therefore, an increased understanding of the metastatic properties of CRC and chemoresistance could improve patient survival. CUGBP elav-like family member 1 (CELF1) is an RNA-binding protein, which is overexpressed in many human malignant tumors. However, the influence of CELF1 in CRC is unclear. V-ets erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homologue 2 (ETS2) is an evolutionarily conserved proto-oncogene known to be overexpressed in a variety of human cancers including CRC. In thespresent tudy, we investigated the association between CELF1 and ETS2 in CRC tumorigenesis and oxaliplatin (L-OHP) resistance. We found a positive correlation between the elevated expression of CELF1 and ETS2 in human CRC tissues. Overexpression of CELF1 increased CRC cell proliferation, migration, and invasion in vitro and in a xenograft tumor growth model in vivo, and induced resistance to L-OHP. In contrast, CELF1 knockdown improved the response of CRC cells to L-OHP. Overexpression of ETS2 increased the malignant behavior of CRC cells (growth, migration, and invasion) and L-OHP resistance in vitro. Moreover, L-OHP resistance induced by CELF1 overexpression was reversed by ETS2 knockdown. The results of luciferase reporter and ribonucleoprotein immunoprecipitation assays indicated that CELF1 up-regulates ETS2 by binding to its 3′-UTR. Taken together, our findings have identified that CELF1 regulates ETS2 in a mechanism that results in CRC tumorigenesis and L-OHP resistance, and CELF1 may be a promising target for overcoming chemoresistance in CRC.

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