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Cancer Res. 2010 Mar 1;70(5):2126-35. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-3833. Epub 2010 Feb 23.

Activation of phosphatidylcholine cycle enzymes in human epithelial ovarian cancer cells.

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Department of Cell Biology and Neurosciences, Section of Molecular and Cellular Imaging, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.


Altered phosphatidylcholine (PC) metabolism in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) could provide choline-based imaging approaches as powerful tools to improve diagnosis and identify new therapeutic targets. The increase in the major choline-containing metabolite phosphocholine (PCho) in EOC compared with normal and nontumoral immortalized counterparts (EONT) may derive from (a) enhanced choline transport and choline kinase (ChoK)-mediated phosphorylation, (b) increased PC-specific phospholipase C (PC-plc) activity, and (c) increased intracellular choline production by PC deacylation plus glycerophosphocholine-phosphodiesterase (GPC-pd) or by phospholipase D (pld)-mediated PC catabolism followed by choline phosphorylation. Biochemical, protein, and mRNA expression analyses showed that the most relevant changes in EOC cells were (a) 12-fold to 25-fold ChoK activation, consistent with higher protein content and increased ChoKalpha (but not ChoKbeta) mRNA expression levels; and (b) 5-fold to 17-fold PC-plc activation, consistent with higher, previously reported, protein expression. PC-plc inhibition by tricyclodecan-9-yl-potassium xanthate (D609) in OVCAR3 and SKOV3 cancer cells induced a 30% to 40% reduction of PCho content and blocked cell proliferation. More limited and variable sources of PCho could derive, in some EOC cells, from 2-fold to 4-fold activation of pld or GPC-pd. Phospholipase A2 activity and isoform expression levels were lower or unchanged in EOC compared with EONT cells. Increased ChoKalpha mRNA, as well as ChoK and PC-plc protein expression, were also detected in surgical specimens isolated from patients with EOC. Overall, we showed that the elevated PCho pool detected in EOC cells primarily resulted from upregulation/activation of ChoK and PC-plc involved in PC biosynthesis and degradation, respectively.

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