Targeting Thymidylate Synthase and tRNA-Derived Non-Coding RNAs Improves Therapeutic Sensitivity in Colorectal Cancer

Changwon Yang, Jisoo Song, Sunwoo Park, Jiyeon Ham, Wonhyoung Park, Hahyun Park, Garam An, Taeyeon Hong, Hee Seung Kim, Gwonhwa Song, Whasun Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Some colorectal cancer (CRC) patients are resistant to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), and high expression levels of thymidylate synthase (TS) contribute to this resistance. This study investigated whether quercetin, a representative polyphenol compound, could enhance the effect of 5-FU in CRC cells. Quercetin suppressed TS levels that were increased by 5-FU in CRC cells and promoted the expression of p53. Quercetin also induced intracellular and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and Ca2+ dysregulation in a 5-FU-independent pathway in CRC cells. Furthermore, quercetin decreased mitochondrial membrane potential in CRC cells and inhibited mitochondrial respiration. Moreover, quercetin regulated the expression of specific tiRNAs, including tiRNAHisGTG, and transfection of a tiRNAHisGTG mimic further enhanced the apoptotic effect of quercetin in CRC cells. An enhanced sensitivity to 5-FU was also confirmed in colitis-associated CRC mice treated with quercetin. The treatment of quercetin decreased survival rates of the CRC mouse model, with reductions in the number of tumors and in the disease activity index. Also, quercetin suppressed TS and PCNA protein expression in the distal colon tissue of CRC mice. These results suggest that quercetin has the potential to be used as an adjuvant with 5-FU for the treatment of CRC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2158
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Nov

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) Grant funded by the Korean government (MSIT) (grant numbers: 2021R1A2C2005841 and 2021R1C1C1009807).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • 5-fluorouracil
  • colorectal cancer
  • p53
  • quercetin
  • thymidylate synthase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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