Oncogenic pathways implicated in ovarian epithelial cancer

Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2003 Aug;17(4):927-43. doi: 10.1016/s0889-8588(03)00056-x.


Characterization of intracellular signaling pathways should lead to a better understanding of ovarian epithelial carcinogenesis and provide an opportunity to interfere with signal transduction targets involved in ovarian tumor cell growth, survival, and progression. Challenges toward such an effort are significant because many of these signals are part of cascades within an intricate and likely redundant intracellular signaling network (Fig.1). For instance, a given signal may activate a dual intracellular pathway (ie, MEK1-MAPK and PI3K/Akt required for fibronectin-dependent activation of matrix metalloproteinase 9). A single pathway also may transduce more than one biologic or oncogenic signal (ie, PI3K signaling in epithelial and endothelial cell growth and sprouting of neovessels). Despite these challenges, evidence for therapeutic targeting of signal transduction pathways is accumulating in human cancer. For instance, the EGF-specific tyrosine kinase inhibitor ZD 1839 (Iressa) may have a beneficial therapeutic effect on ovarian epithelial cancer. Therapy of this cancer may include inhibitors of PI kinase (quercetin), ezrin and PIP kinase (genistein). The G protein-coupled family of receptors, including LPA, also is an attractive target to drugs, although their frequent pleiotropic functions may be at times toxic and lack specificity. Because of the lack of notable toxicity, PI3K/Akt pathway inhibitors such as FTIs are a promising targeted therapy of ovarian epithelial cancer. Increasing insight into the oncogenic pathways involved in ovarian epithelial cancer also is helping clinicians to understand better the phenomenon of chemoresistance in this malignancy. Oncogenic activation of gamma-synuclein promotes cell survival and provides resistance to paclitaxel, but such a resistance is partially overcome by an MEK inhibitor that suppresses ERK activity. Ovarian epithelial cancer is a complex group of neoplasms with an overall poor prognosis. Comprehension of this cancer pathobiology suffers because of an incomplete understanding of precursor lesions and the absence of an orthotopic animal model until very recently. It can be predicted with confidence, however, that the discovery of potent inhibitors of signal transduction and the development of discovery tools, such as proteomics and metabolomics, may change the way by which clinicians may now address basic biomedical questions in this insidious and lethal disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells* / enzymology
  • Epithelial Cells* / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / enzymology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*