Int J Biol Sci 2021; 17(2):574-588. doi:10.7150/ijbs.52097

Research Paper

Free CA125 promotes ovarian cancer cell migration and tumor metastasis by binding Mesothelin to reduce DKK1 expression and activate the SGK3/FOXO3 pathway

Qianyu Huo1#, Chen Xu2#, Yanhong Shao1, Qin Yu1, Lunhui Huang1, Yunde Liu1✉, Huijing Bao3✉

1. School of Medical Technology, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin 300203, China.
2. Laboratory Science Department, Tianjin 4th Central Hospital, Tianjin, 300100, China.
3. Integrative Medical Diagnosis Laboratory, Tianjin Nankai Hospital, Tianjin, 300100, China; School of Medical Technology, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin 300203, China.
#Contributed equally to this work.

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Citation:
Huo Q, Xu C, Shao Y, Yu Q, Huang L, Liu Y, Bao H. Free CA125 promotes ovarian cancer cell migration and tumor metastasis by binding Mesothelin to reduce DKK1 expression and activate the SGK3/FOXO3 pathway. Int J Biol Sci 2021; 17(2):574-588. doi:10.7150/ijbs.52097. Available from https://www.ijbs.com/v17p0574.htm

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Abstract

Objective: CA125/MUC16 is an O-glycosylated protein that is expressed on the surfaces of ovarian epithelial cells. This molecule is a widely used tumor-associated marker for diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Recently, CA125 was shown to be involved in ovarian cancer metastasis. The purpose of this study was to investigate the mechanism of CA125 during ovarian cancer metastasis.

Methods: We analyzed the Oncomine and CSIOVDB databases to determine the expression levels of DKK1 in ovarian cancer. DKK1 expression levels were upregulated or downregulated and applied with CA125 to Transwell and Western blot assays to ascertain the underlying mechanism by which CA125 stimulates cell migration via the SGK3/FOXO3 pathway. Anti-mesothelin antibodies (anti-MSLN) were used to block CA125 stimulation. Then the expression levels of DKK1were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to eliminate the blocking effect of anti-MSLN to CA125 stimulation. Xenograft mouse models were used to detect the effects of CA125 and anti-MSLN on ovarian cancer metastasis in vivo.

Results: DKK1 levels were downregulated in ovarian tumor tissues according to the analyses of two databases and significantly correlated with FIGO stage, grade and disease-free survival in ovarian cancer patients. DKK1 levels were downregulated by CA125 stimulation in vitro. Overexpression of DKK1 reversed the ability of exogenous CA125 to mediate cell migration by activating the SGK3/FOXO3 signaling pathway. Anti-MSLN abrogated the DKK1 reduction and increased the apoptosis of ovarian cancer cells. The use of anti-MSLN in xenograft mouse models significantly reduced tumor growth and metastasis accelerated by CA125.

Conclusions: These experiments revealed that the SGK3/FOXO3 pathway was activated, wherein decreased expression of DKK1 was caused by CA125, which fuels ovarian cancer cell migration. Mesothelin is a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of ovarian cancer metastasis.

Keywords: CA125, DKK1, MSLN, therapy, ovarian cancer