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TMEFF1 overexpression and its mechanism for tumor promotion in ovarian cancer

Authors Nie X, Liu C, Guo Q, Zheng M, Gao L, Li X, Liu D, Zhu L, Liu J, Lin B

Received 1 September 2018

Accepted for publication 26 November 2018

Published 17 January 2019 Volume 2019:11 Pages 839—855

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CMAR.S186080

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Andrew Yee

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Kenan Onel


Xin Nie,1,2 Cong Liu,3 Qian Guo,1,2 Ming-jun Zheng,1,2 Ling-ling Gao,1,2 Xiao Li,1,2 Da-wo Liu,1,2 Lian-cheng Zhu,1,2 Juan-juan Liu,1,2 Bei Lin1,2

1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Shengjing Hospital Affiliated to China Medical University, Liaoning, China; 2Key Laboratory of Maternal-Fetal Medicine of Liaoning Province, Key Laboratory of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Higher Education of Liaoning Province, Liaoning, China; 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Wuxi Materal and Child Health Hospital, Jiangsu, China

Background: Transmembrane protein with epidermal growth factor-like and two follistatin-like domains 1 (TMEFF1) has an anticarcinogenic effect in brain tumors. However, little is known about the role of TMEFF1 in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC).
Materials and methods: TMEFF1 expression in EOC was detected by immunohistochemistry; its relationship with clinical pathological parameters and its influence on prognosis were analyzed. The MTT, scratch, Transwell assays, and flow cytometry were used to assess the malignant behavior of ovarian cancer cell. Changes in node proteins in MAPK and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways and the expression of epithelial–mesenchymal transformation markers were measured by Western blot. The regulatory effect of p53 on TMEFF1 was verified by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay and Western blot.
Results: TMEFF1 expression was higher in the EOC group than in the borderline and benign tumor groups and normal ovary group; its high expression was significantly related to International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics stage (P=0.024) and independently predicted shorter overall survival (P<0.01). TMEFF1 overexpression in ovarian cancer cells induced increased cellular proliferation, migration, and invasion but reduced apoptosis. In addition, the percentage of phosphorylated node proteins in MAPK and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways increased significantly. The expression of E-cadherin decreased but that of vimentin and N-cadherin increased. After the addition of MAPK (PD98059) and PI3K (GDC-0941) pathway inhibitors, ovarian cancer cells overexpressing TMEFF1 showed suppressed malignant behavior. TMEFF1 protein expression in an ovarian cancer cell lines (CAOV3 and ES-2) was downregulated after the inhibition of TP53. The transcription factor, p53, bound the promoter region of the TMEFF1 gene according to ChIP.

Conclusion: TMEFF1 is a carcinogenic gene in ovarian cancer and can be regulated by p53 transcription. Through MAPK and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways, TMEFF1 promotes the malignant behavior in EOC. Therefore, TMEFF1 may be considered as a potential therapeutic target for ovarian cancer.

Keywords: TMEFF1, ovarian cancer, MAPK, PI3K, p53

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