Ovarian epithelial carcinoma tyrosine phosphorylation, cell proliferation, and ezrin translocation are stimulated by interleukin 1alpha and epidermal growth factor

Cancer. 2001 Dec 15;92(12):3068-75. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(20011215)92:12<3068::aid-cncr10149>3.0.co;2-5.


Background: Ezrin is a member of the ezrin, radixin, and moesin family. These proteins are membrane-actin cross-linking proteins. Furthermore, ezrin is an important signal transduction protein that undergoes phosphorylation and translocation on stimulation by growth factors. Ezrin phosphorylation and translocation are thought to be correlated with cell motility, invasion, and carcinoma metastasis. Recently, the authors reported that an ezrin antisense phosphorothionate could significantly inhibit endometrial carcinoma cells' penetration in the Matrigel membrane cancer invasion assay. In the current study, the authors measured ezrin content in clinical ovarian epithelial carcinoma (OVCA) specimens and cell lines and investigated whether interleukin (IL)-1alpha and epidermal growth factor (EGF) induce an invasive phenotype in OVCA cells via ezrin phosphorylation and translocation.

Methods: Twenty-five normal ovary, 25 primary OVCA, 21 metastatic OVCA tissue (7 in omentum, 16 in ascites), and 3 OVCA cell lines were collected for Western blot detection of ezrin content. The OVCA cell line SKOV3 was treated with IL-1alpha or EGF. Indirect immunofluorescence staining followed by confocal laser scanning and double-staining electron microscopic immunohistochemistry were used to investigate changes in the intracellular distribution of ezrin and cell morphology after IL-1alpha or EGF treatment. The content of ezrin was measured by Western blotting and analyzed by the National Institutes of Health Image computer program. Immunoprecipitation and Western blot techniques were used for ezrin phosphorylation studies. Genistein was used to block tyrosine phosphorylation.

Results: (1) Ezrin was overexpressed in OVCA, with the highest values in metastases. (2) Interleukin-1alpha and EGF significantly increased OVCA tyrosine phosphorylation, ezrin translocation, and cell growth. (3) These effects were abolished by treatment with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor, genistein. (4) Treatment with IL-1alpha or EGF induced an invasive phenotype, i.e., membrane ruffling, and process formation.

Conclusions: High expression and activation of ezrin appear to be related to OVCA metastatic behavior. Interleukin-1alpha and EGF may regulate OVCA invasive behavior by activating ezrin tyrosine phosphorylation, translocation, and cancer cell proliferation. The authors' results may partially explain why OVCA patients with positive macrophage colony stimulating factor (a chemoattractant of IL-1alpha secreting monocytes) or EGF receptors (c-erb B-2) have a poor prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinoma / physiopathology*
  • Cell Division*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interleukin-1 / pharmacology*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics*
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins / pharmacology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Translocation, Genetic*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tyrosine / metabolism*


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Interleukin-1
  • Phosphoproteins
  • ezrin
  • Tyrosine
  • Epidermal Growth Factor