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Oncogene. 2011 Mar 3;30(9):1020-31. doi: 10.1038/onc.2010.486. Epub 2010 Oct 25.

Inhibition of p53 induces invasion of serous borderline ovarian tumor cells by accentuating PI3K/Akt-mediated suppression of E-cadherin.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Child & Family Research Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Serous borderline ovarian tumors (SBOTs) are slow-growing, non-invasive ovarian epithelial neoplasms. SBOTs are considered to be distinct entities that give rise to invasive low-grade serous carcinomas (LGCs), which have a relatively poor prognosis and are unrelated to high-grade serous carcinomas (HGCs). The mechanisms underlying the progression of non-invasive SBOTs to invasive epithelial ovarian carcinomas are not understood. We recently established short-term cultures of SBOT cells from tumor biopsies and showed that inactivation of p53, retinoblastoma (Rb) and/or PP2A by the simian virus 40 (SV40) large (LT) and small T antigens extends the life span of the cells and endows them with the ability to invade Matrigel-coated transwells. In this study, we show that concurrent inhibition of p53 and Rb by the SV40 LT produces cells (referred to as SBOT4-LT) with increased life span and cell invasion. To distinguish the roles of p53 and Rb in the progression from SBOTs to invasive ovarian carcinomas, we performed small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of endogenous p53 in a spontaneously immortalized SBOT cell line, SBOT3.1, which increased cell invasion. This increased invasive activity was associated with the transcriptional downregulation of E-cadherin, correlated with an increase in PIK3CA levels and the increased activation of Akt. Conversely, in invasive LGC-derived MPSC1 cells, enhancing the levels of p53 decreased cell invasion and diminished the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt-mediated downregulation of E-cadherin. Inhibition of Rb also enhanced invasiveness, but did not affect the levels of PIK3CA and E-cadherin in SBOT3.1 cells, suggesting that it functions by a different pathway. To our knowledge, this study is the first to show that p53 has an important role in the progression from SBOTs to invasive carcinomas. In addition, our findings suggest that downregulation of E-cadherin by the PI3K/Akt pathway contributes to this progression.

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