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Open Access Research article

DcR3 binds to ovarian cancer via heparan sulfate proteoglycans and modulates tumor cells response to platinum with corresponding alteration in the expression of BRCA1

Joseph P Connor*, Mildred Felder, Arvinder Kapur and Nonyem Onujiogu

Author Affiliations

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 1212 Sherman Ave, Madison, WI, 53703, USA

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:176  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-176

Published: 14 May 2012

Abstract

Background

Overcoming platinum resistance is a major obstacle in the treatment of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (EOC). In our previous work Decoy Receptor 3 (DcR3) was found to be related to platinum resistance. The major objective of this work was to define the cellular interaction of DcR3 with EOC and to explore its effects on platinum responsiveness.

Methods

We studied cell lines and primary cultures for the expression of and the cells ability to bind DcR3. Cells were cultured with DcR3 and then exposed to platinum. Cell viability was determined by MTT assay. Finally, the cells molecular response to DcR3 was studied using real time RT-PCR based differential expression arrays, standard RT-PCR, and Western blot.

Results

High DcR3 in the peritoneal cavity of women with EOC is associated with significantly shorter time to first recurrence after platinum based therapy (p = 0.02). None-malignant cells contribute DcR3 in the peritoneal cavity. The cell lines studied do not secrete DcR3; however they all bind exogenous DcR3 to their surface implying that they can be effected by DcR3 from other sources. DcR3s protein binding partners are minimally expressed or negative, however, all cells expressed the DcR3 binding Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycans (HSPGs) Syndecans-2, and CD44v3. DcR3 binding was inhibited by heparin and heparinase. After DcR3 exposure both SKOV-3 and OVCAR-3 became more resistant to platinum with 15% more cells surviving at high doses. On the contrary CaOV3 became more sensitive to platinum with 20–25% more cell death. PCR array analysis showed increase expression of BRCA1 mRNA in SKOV-3 and OVCAR-3 and decreased BRCA1 expression in CaOV-3 after exposure to DcR3. This was confirmed by gene specific real time PCR and Western blot analysis.

Conclusions

Non-malignant cells contribute to the high levels of DcR3 in ovarian cancer. DcR3 binds readily to EOC cells via HSPGs and alter their responsiveness to platinum chemotherapy. The paradoxical responses seen were related to the expression pattern of HSPGs available on the cells surface to interact with. Although the mechanism behind this is not completely known alterations in DNA repair pathways including the expression of BRCA1 appear to be involved.