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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Global gene expression analysis of early response to chemotherapy treatment in ovarian cancer spheroids

Sylvain L'Espérance13, Magdalena Bachvarova3, Bernard Tetu23, Anne-Marie Mes-Masson45 and Dimcho Bachvarov13*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Laval University, Québec (Québec), Canada

2 Department of Pathology, Laval University, Québec (Québec), Canada

3 Cancer Research Centre, Hôpital L'Hotel-Dieu de Québec, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec (CHUQ), Québec (Québec), Canada

4 Department of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montreal, (Québec) Canada

5 Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM), Institut du cancer de Montréal, Montréal (Québec), Canada

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:99  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-99

Published: 26 February 2008

Abstract

Background

Chemotherapy (CT) resistance in ovarian cancer (OC) is broad and encompasses diverse unrelated drugs, suggesting more than one mechanism of resistance. To better understand the molecular mechanisms controlling the immediate response of OC cells to CT exposure, we have performed gene expression profiling in spheroid cultures derived from six OC cell lines (OVCAR3, SKOV3, TOV-112, TOV-21, OV-90 and TOV-155), following treatment with 10,0 μM cisplatin, 2,5 μM paclitaxel or 5,0 μM topotecan for 72 hours.

Results

Exposure of OC spheroids to these CT drugs resulted in differential expression of genes associated with cell growth and proliferation, cellular assembly and organization, cell death, cell cycle control and cell signaling. Genes, functionally involved in DNA repair, DNA replication and cell cycle arrest were mostly overexpressed, while genes implicated in metabolism (especially lipid metabolism), signal transduction, immune and inflammatory response, transport, transcription regulation and protein biosynthesis, were commonly suppressed following all treatments. Cisplatin and topotecan treatments triggered similar alterations in gene and pathway expression patterns, while paclitaxel action was mainly associated with induction of genes and pathways linked to cellular assembly and organization (including numerous tubulin genes), cell death and protein synthesis. The microarray data were further confirmed by pathway and network analyses.

Conclusion

Most alterations in gene expression were directly related to mechanisms of the cytotoxics actions in OC spheroids. However, the induction of genes linked to mechanisms of DNA replication and repair in cisplatin- and topotecan-treated OC spheroids could be associated with immediate adaptive response to treatment. Similarly, overexpression of different tubulin genes upon exposure to paclitaxel could represent an early compensatory effect to this drug action. Finally, multicellular growth conditions that are known to alter gene expression (including cell adhesion and cytoskeleton organization), could substantially contribute in reducing the initial effectiveness of CT drugs in OC spheroids. Results described in this study underscore the potential of the microarray technology for unraveling the complex mechanisms of CT drugs actions in OC spheroids and early cellular response to treatment.