Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Expression profiling identifies genes involved in neoplastic transformation of serous ovarian cancer

Melissa A Merritt13, Peter G Parsons1, Tanya R Newton1, Adam C Martyn1, Penelope M Webb2, Adèle C Green2, David J Papadimos4 and Glen M Boyle1*

Author affiliations

1 Division of Cancer and Cell Biology, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

2 Division of Genetics and Population Health, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

3 School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

4 Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology Laboratory, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Cancer 2009, 9:378  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-378

Published: 23 October 2009



The malignant potential of serous ovarian tumors, the most common ovarian tumor subtype, varies from benign to low malignant potential (LMP) tumors to frankly invasive cancers. Given the uncertainty about the relationship between these different forms, we compared their patterns of gene expression.


Expression profiling was carried out on samples of 7 benign, 7 LMP and 28 invasive (moderate and poorly differentiated) serous tumors and four whole normal ovaries using oligonucleotide microarrays representing over 21,000 genes.


We identified 311 transcripts that distinguished invasive from benign tumors, and 20 transcripts that were significantly differentially expressed between invasive and LMP tumors at p < 0.01 (with multiple testing correction). Five genes that were differentially expressed between invasive and either benign or normal tissues were validated by real time PCR in an independent panel of 46 serous tumors (4 benign, 7 LMP, 35 invasive). Overexpression of SLPI and WNT7A and down-regulation of C6orf31, PDGFRA and GLTSCR2 were measured in invasive and LMP compared with benign and normal tissues. Over-expression of WNT7A in an ovarian cancer cell line led to increased migration and invasive capacity.


These results highlight several genes that may play an important role across the spectrum of serous ovarian tumorigenesis.