Journal Article

BMP4 induces EMT and Rho GTPase activation in human ovarian cancer cells

Brigitte L. Thériault, Trevor G. Shepherd, Michelle L. Mujoomdar and Mark W. Nachtigal

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 28, issue 6, pages 1153-1162
Published in print June 2007 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online February 2007 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
BMP4 induces EMT and Rho GTPase activation in human ovarian cancer cells

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We identified previously an autocrine bone morphogenetic protein-4 (BMP4) signalling pathway in primary human normal ovarian surface epithelial (OSE) and epithelial ovarian cancer (OvCa) cells. Herein we show that treatment of OvCa cells with BMP4 produced morphological alterations and increased cellular adhesion, motility and invasion. The BMP4 inhibitor noggin blocked the BMP4-induced phenotype, and decreased autocrine BMP4-mediated OvCa cell motility and adherence. In response to exogenous BMP4, the epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers Snail and Slug mRNA and protein were up-regulated, E-cadherin mRNA and protein were down-regulated and the network of alpha smooth muscle actin changed to resemble a mesenchymal cell. We also observed changes in the level of activated Rho GTPases in OvCa cells treated with BMP4, strongly suggesting that the changes in morphology, adhesion, motility and invasion are probably mediated through the activation of these molecules. Strikingly, treatment of normal OSE cells with BMP4 or noggin failed to alter cell motility, providing evidence that OSE and OvCa cells possess a distinct capability to respond to BMP4. Overall, our studies suggest a link between autocrine BMP signalling mediated through the Rho GTPase family and Snail- and Slug-induced EMT that may collectively contribute to aggressive OvCa behaviour.

Journal Article.  7221 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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