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Lab Invest. 2003 Jun;83(6):861-70.

Up-regulation of small GTPases, RhoA and RhoC, is associated with tumor progression in ovarian carcinoma.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Shinshu University School of Medicine, Matsumoto, Japan.


To clarify the role of small GTPases Rho in the biologic behavior of ovarian carcinoma, we first examined the mRNA expression of RhoA, RhoB, and RhoC in benign, borderline, and malignant ovarian tumors using RT-PCR and real-time RT-PCR. The expression and localization of RhoA protein were also analyzed by Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. Finally, we examined whether up-regulation of Rho enhances the invasiveness of ovarian cancer cells in vitro. Analysis of mRNA levels of the Rho family genes revealed that levels of both RhoA and RhoC were significantly higher in carcinomas than in benign tumors (RhoA, p = 0.0035; RhoC, p = 0.0006). According to histologic subtype, both RhoA and RhoC mRNA levels in serous carcinomas were significantly higher than those in other histologic types. With regard to the International Federation of Gynecological and Obstetrics stage classification, both of RhoA and RhoC mRNA levels were significantly higher in tumors of Stages III+IV than in those of Stages I+II (RhoA, p = 0.0200; RhoC, p = 0.0057). In addition, analysis of matched pairs of primary and disseminated lesions demonstrated that expression of both RhoA and RhoC mRNA was significantly higher in metastatic than in primary tumors. Examination of the protein level showed that expression of RhoA was also increased in advanced ovarian carcinomas, especially those of serous histology. Accordingly, we hypothesized that up-regulation of Rho GTPases plays an important role in the progression of ovarian carcinoma. Matrigel invasion assay using the ovarian cancer cell line, SKOV3, showed that up-regulation and activation after treatment with lysophosphatidic acid was associated with enhanced invasion of the cancer cells. This increase in invasiveness was suppressed by the addition of C3, a specific inhibitor of Rho. These findings suggest that up-regulation of Rho GTPases is important in the tumor progression of ovarian carcinoma and that Rho family proteins could be a molecular target in cancer therapy.

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