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PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e20715. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020715. Epub 2011 Jun 9.

Mammalian target of rapamycin is a therapeutic target for murine ovarian endometrioid adenocarcinomas with dysregulated Wnt/β-catenin and PTEN.

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Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.


Despite the fact that epithelial ovarian cancers are the leading cause of death from gynecological cancer, very little is known about the pathophysiology of the disease. Mutations in the WNT and PI3K pathways are frequently observed in the human ovarian endometrioid adenocarcinomas (OEAs). However, the role of WNT/β-catenin and PTEN/AKT signaling in the etiology and/or progression of this disease is currently unclear. In this report we show that mice with a gain-of-function mutation in β-catenin that leads to dysregulated nuclear accumulation of β-catenin expression in the ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) cells develop indolent, undifferentiated tumors with both mesenchymal and epithelial characteristics. Combining dysregulated β-catenin with homozygous deletion of PTEN in the OSE resulted in development of significantly more aggressive tumors, which was correlated with inhibition of p53 expression and cellular senescence. Induced expression of both mTOR kinase, a master regulator of proliferation, and phosphorylation of its downstream target, S6Kinase was also observed in both the indolent and aggressive mouse tumors, as well as in human OEA with nuclear β-catenin accumulation. Ectopic allotransplants of the mouse ovarian tumor cells with a gain-of-function mutation in β-catenin and PTEN deletion developed into tumors with OEA histology, the growth of which were significantly inhibited by oral rapamycin treatment. These studies demonstrate that rapamycin might be an effective therapeutic for human ovarian endometrioid patients with dysregulated Wnt/β-catenin and Pten/PI3K signaling.

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