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PRL-3 suppresses c-Fos and integrin α2 expression in ovarian cancer cells

Hao Liu1*, Abdul Qader Omer Al-aidaroos2, Haihe Wang3, Ke Guo2, Jie Li2, Hua Fei Zhang1 and Qi Zeng24*

Author Affiliations

1 MOE key laboratory of Industrial Fermentation Microbiology, College of Biotechnology, Tianjin University of Science and Technology, Tianjin, 300457, People’s Republic of China

2 Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), 61 Biopolis Drive, Proteos, Singapore, 138673, Republic of Singapore

3 Department of Biochemistry, Zhongshan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-Sen University, 74 Zhongshan Road II, Guangzhou, Guangdong, 510080, People’s Republic of China

4 Department of Biochemistry, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, 119260, Republic of Singapore

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:80  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-80

Published: 18 February 2013



Phosphatase of regenerating liver-3 (PRL-3), a protein tyrosine phosphatase, is highly expressed in multiple human cancers and strongly implicated in tumor progression and cancer metastasis. However, the mechanisms by which PRL-3 promotes cancer cell migration, invasion, and metastasis are not very well understood. In this study, we investigated the contribution and molecular mechanisms of PRL-3 in ovarian cancer progression.


PRL-3 protein expression was detected on ovarian cancer tissue microarrays using immunohistochemistry. Stable PRL-3 depleted cell lines were generated using short hairpin RNA (shRNA) constructs. The migration and invasion potential of these cells were analyzed using Transwell and Matrigel assays, respectively. Immunoblotting and immunofluorescence were used to detect protein levels and distribution in PRL-3-ablated cells and the control cells. Cell morphology was observed with hematoxylin-eosin staining and transmission electron microscopy. Finally, PRL-3-ablated and control cells were injected into nude mice for xenograft tumorigenicity assays.


Elevated PRL-3 expression was detected in 19% (26 out of 135) of human ovarian cancer patient samples, but not in normal ovary tissues (0 out of 14). Stable depletion of PRL-3 in A2780 ovarian cancer cells resulted in decreased migration ability and invasion activity compared with control parental A2780 cells. In addition, PRL-3-ablated cells also exhibited flattened morphology and extended lamellipodia. To address the possible molecular basis for the altered phenotypes associated with PRL-3 down-regulation, we assessed the expression profiles of various proteins involved in cell-matrix adhesion. Depletion of PRL-3 dramatically enhanced both RNA and protein levels of the cell surface receptor integrin α2, but not its heterologous binding partner integrin β1. Inhibition of PRL-3 also correlated with elevated expression and phosphorylation of paxillin. A pronounced increase in the expression and activation of c-fos, a transcriptional activator of integrin α2, was observed in these PRL-3 knock-down cells. Moreover, forced expression of EGFP-PRL-3 resulted in the suppression of both integrin α2 and c-fos expression in A2780 cells. Significantly, using a xenograft tumor model, we observed a greatly reduced tumorigenicity of A2780 PRL-3 knock-down cells in vivo.


These results suggest that PRL-3 plays a critical role in ovarian cancer tumorigenicity and maintaining the malignant phenotype. PRL-3 may inhibit c-fos transcriptional regulation of integrin α2 signaling. Our results strongly support a role for PRL-3 as a promising therapeutic target and potential early biomarker in ovarian cancer progression.

PRL-3 phosphatase; Cancer metastasis; Integrin α2; c-fos transcription factor; Adhesion molecule; Cell migration