Open Access Research article

Linking the ovarian cancer transcriptome and immunome

Ronald Rapberger12, Paul Perco1, Cornelia Sax2, Thomas Pangerl2, Christian Siehs1, Dietmar Pils2, Andreas Bernthaler3, Arno Lukas3, Bernd Mayer13* and Michael Krainer2

Author Affiliations

1 Institute for Theoretical Chemistry, University of Vienna, Währinger Strasse 17, A-1090 Vienna, Austria

2 University Clinics for Internal Medicine I, Medical University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria

3 emergentec biodevelopment GmbH, Rathausstrasse 5/3, A-1010 Vienna, Austria

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BMC Systems Biology 2008, 2:2  doi:10.1186/1752-0509-2-2

Published: 3 January 2008



Autoantigens have been reported in a variety of tumors, providing insight into the interplay between malignancies and the immune response, and also giving rise to novel diagnostic and therapeutic concepts. Why certain tumor-associated proteins induce an immune response remains largely elusive.


This paper analyzes the proposed link between increased abundance of a protein in cancerous tissue and the increased potential of the protein for induction of a humoral immune response, using ovarian cancer as an example. Public domain data sources on differential gene expression and on autoantigens associated with this malignancy were extracted and compared, using bioinformatics analysis, on the levels of individual genes and proteins, transcriptional coregulation, joint functional pathways, and shared protein-protein interaction networks. Finally, a selected list of ovarian cancer-associated, differentially regulated proteins was tested experimentally for reactivity with antibodies prevalent in sera of ovarian cancer patients.

Genes reported as showing differential expression in ovarian cancer exhibited only minor overlap with the public domain list of ovarian cancer autoantigens. However, experimental screening for antibodies directed against antigenic determinants from ovarian cancer-associated proteins yielded clear reactions with sera.


A link between tumor protein abundance and the likelihood of induction of a humoral immune response in ovarian cancer appears evident.