Research Papers:

MARCKS contributes to stromal cancer-associated fibroblast activation and facilitates ovarian cancer metastasis

Zongyuan Yang, Sen Xu, Ping Jin, Xin Yang, Xiaoting Li, Dongyi Wan, Taoran Zhang, Sixiang Long, Xiao Wei, Gang Chen, Li Meng, Dan Liu, Yong Fang, Pingbo Chen, Ding Ma _ and Qinglei Gao

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:37649-37663. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8726

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Zongyuan Yang1,*, Sen Xu1,*, Ping Jin1, Xin Yang1, Xiaoting Li1, Dongyi Wan1, Taoran Zhang1, Sixiang Long1, Xiao Wei1, Gang Chen1, Li Meng1, Dan Liu1, Yong Fang1, Pingbo Chen1, Ding Ma1, Qinglei Gao1

1Cancer Biology Research Center, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei 430030, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Ding Ma, email: [email protected]

Qinglei Gao, email: [email protected]

Keywords: ovarian cancer, CAFs, MARCKS, senescence, Twist1

Received: January 07, 2016     Accepted: March 28, 2016     Published: April 13, 2016


The Cancer Genome Atlas network has revealed that the ‘mesenchymal’ epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) subtype represents the poorest outcome, indicating a crucial role of stromal cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in disease progression. The cooperative role of CAFs in EOC metastasis has long been recognized, but the mechanisms of stromal CAFs activation are still obscure. Therefore, we carried out an integrative analysis to identify the regulator genes that are responsible for CAFs activation in microdissected tumor stroma profiles. Here, we determined that myristoylated alanine-rich C-kinase substrate (MARCKS) was highly expressed in ovarian stroma, and was required for the differentiation and tumor promoting function of CAFs. Suppression of MARCKS resulted in the loss of CAF features, and diminished role of CAFs in supporting tumor cell growth in 3D organotypic cultures and in murine xenograft model. Mechanistically, we found that MARCKS maintained CAF activation through suppression of cellular senescence and activation of the AKT/Twist1 signaling. Moreover, high MARCKS expression was associated with poor patient survival in EOC. Collectively, our findings identify the potential of MARCKS inhibition as a novel stroma-oriented therapy in EOC.

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