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Gynecol Oncol. 2009 Dec;115(3):407-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2009.08.007. Epub 2009 Sep 10.

CA125 (MUC16) tumor antigen selectively modulates the sensitivity of ovarian cancer cells to genotoxic drug-induced apoptosis.

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  • 1Département de Microbiologie et Infectiologie, Université de Sherbrooke, 3001, 12ième Avenue Nord, Sherbrooke J1H 5N1, Canada.



Little is known about the biological functions of CA125/MUC16 tumor antigen. Here, we examined the role of CA125/MUC16 in regulating the sensitivity of epithelial ovarian carcinoma (EOC) cells to different drugs.


An endoplasmic reticulum targeted single-chain antibody (scFv) was used to down-regulate cell surface expression of CA125/MUC16 in NIH:OVCAR3 cells and the C-terminal domain (CTD) of MUC16 was ectopically expressed in CA125-negative SKOV3 cells. Sensitivity to genotoxic agents and to inhibitors of microtubule depolymerization was examined in NIH:OVCAR3 and SKOV3 cell sublines. Cell viability was determined by XTT assay, apoptosis by propidium iodide staining and caspase activation by Western blot and fluorogenic assay.


Down-regulation of cell surface MUC16 decreases cisplatin IC(50) by 5-fold in NIH:OVCAR3 cells but does not affect paclitaxel IC(50). We found that the sensitivity to other genotoxic agents such as cyclophosphamide, doxorubicine and etoposide was also increased by down-regulation of MUC16. Caspase-9 and caspase-3 activation also significantly augmented in cisplatin-treated NIH:OVCAR3 cells expressing the anti-MUC16 scFv. Ectopic expression of MUC16 CTD has the opposite effect. Cisplatin sensitivity and caspases activation are decreased by the ectopic expression of MUC16 CTD in SKOV3 cells.


CA125/MUC16 selectively modulates the sensitivity of EOC cells to genotoxic agents. The MUC16 CTD appears to be sufficient to promote cisplatin resistance.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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