Objective: To identify novel molecular biomarkers useful for the early diagnosis and therapy of ovarian cancer by gene expression profiling. To compare the genetic fingerprints of flash-frozen ovarian serous carcinomas to those of matched highly purified primary tumor cell cultures.
Methods: Gene expression profiles of 19 flash-frozen ovarian serous papillary carcinoma (OSPC) were analyzed and compared to 15 controls (highly purified human ovarian surface epithelium short-term cultures, HOSE) using oligonucleotide microarrays complementary to >14,500 human genes. In addition, gene expression profiling of 5 highly purified primary OSPC cultured in vitro for less than 2 weeks was compared to flash-frozen ovarian carcinoma biopsies obtained from matched samples. Quantitative RT-PCR and IHC staining techniques were used to validate microarray data at RNA and protein levels for some of the differentially expressed genes.
Results: Unsupervised analysis of gene expression data readily distinguished normal tissue from flash-frozen OSPC and identified 901 and 557 genes that exhibited >3-fold up-regulation or down-regulation, respectively, in OSPC when compared to HOSE. Mammaglobin 2, an ovarian secreted protein, was identified as the top differentially expressed gene in OSPC (19 out 19 OSPC versus 0 out of 15 HOSE) with over 827-fold up-regulation relative to HOSE. The claudin and kallikrein family of proteins including the clostridium perfringens enterotoxin receptors claudin 3 and 4, kallikreins 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 and the immunomodulatory molecule B7-H4 were found among the most highly overexpressed genes in OSPC when compared to HOSE. Genetic fingerprints of flash-frozen OSPC were found to have high correlation with those of purified primary OSPC short-term in vitro cultures with only 31 out of 8,637 genes (0.35%) differentially expressed between the two groups.
Conclusions: Short-term in vitro culture of primary ovarian carcinomas may greatly increase the purity of ovarian tumor RNA available for gene expression profiling without causing major alteration in OSPC fingerprints. Mammaglobin 2, kallikreins 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, claudin 3 and 4 and B7-H4 gene expression products represent candidate biomarkers endowed with great potential for early screening and therapy of OSPC patients.