Overexpression of follicle-stimulating hormone receptor activates oncogenic pathways in preneoplastic ovarian surface epithelial cells

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Nov;89(11):5508-16. doi: 10.1210/jc.2004-0044.


It has been previously demonstrated that human ovarian cancer cells express FSH receptor (FSHR). However, whether FSHR plays a role in ovarian cancer development is still ambiguous. To investigate the role of FSHR in tumor progression, we overexpressed the receptor in SV40 Tag immortalized ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) cell lines (IOSE-80PC, a postcrisis line, and IOSE-398), which are preneoplastic and nontumorigenic. We compared the expression levels of several selected oncogenes in nontransfected (80PC), vector-transfected (80PCV), FSHR-transfected IOSE (80PCF) cells, and established ovarian cancer cell lines (OVCAR-3 and SKOV-3). Significantly increased protein levels of epithelial growth factor receptor, HER-2/neu, and c-Myc, but not K-Ras, were observed in FSHR-overexpressing 80PCF cells when compared with 80PCV cells. Constitutive phosphorylation of ERK1/2 was augmented in 80PCF cells, whereas phosphorylation of the other MAPK including p38 and Jun N-terminal kinase was unchanged. Considerable constitutive phosphorylation of ERK1/2 was also observed in OVCAR-3 and SKOV-3 cell lines when compared with 80PCV. More importantly, 80PCF cells grew more rapidly than 80PC and 80PCV cells. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that FSHR was highly expressed in OVCAR-3 and 80PCF cells transfected with FSHR overexpression vector. The 80PCF cell line showed increased levels of epithelial growth factor receptor, HER-2/neu, and c-myc and constitutive activation of ERK1/2. The rate of proliferation of the 80PCF cells was increased, compared with control cell lines. These results suggest that the overexpression of FSHR may be associated with enhanced levels of potential oncogenic pathways and increased proliferation in preneoplastic ovarian surface epithelial cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Oncogenes
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Precancerous Conditions / etiology*
  • Receptors, FSH / physiology*
  • Transfection


  • Receptors, FSH
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases