Spermatogenesis associated retrogenes are expressed in the human ovary and ovarian cancers

PLoS One. 2009;4(3):e5064. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005064. Epub 2009 Mar 31.


Background: Ovarian cancer is the second most prevalent gynecologic cancer in women. However, it is by far the most lethal. This is generally attributed to the absence of easily detectable markers specific to ovarian cancers that can be used for early diagnosis and specific therapeutic targets.

Methodology/principal findings: Using end point PCR we have found that a family of retrogenes, previously thought to be expressed only in the male testis during spermatogenesis in man, are also expressed in normal ovarian tissue and a large percentage of ovarian cancers. In man there are at least eleven such autosomal retrogenes, which are intronless copies of genes on the X chromosome, essential for normal spermatogenesis and expressed specifically in the human testis. We tested for the expression of five of the known retrogenes, UTP14C, PGK2, RPL10L, RPL39L and UBL4B in normal human ovary and ovarian cancers.

Conclusions/significance: We propose that the activation of the testis specific retrogenes in the ovary and ovarian cancers is of biological significance in humans. Because these retrogenes are specifically expressed in the ovary and ovarian cancers in the female they may prove useful in developing new diagnostic and/or therapeutic targets for ovarian cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Chromosomes, Human, X
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / analysis
  • Male
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ovary / metabolism*
  • Phosphoglycerate Kinase / analysis
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nucleolar / analysis
  • Ribosomal Protein L10
  • Ribosomal Proteins / analysis
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Isoenzymes
  • RPL10 protein, human
  • RPL39L protein, human
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nucleolar
  • Ribosomal Proteins
  • Phosphoglycerate Kinase
  • phosphoglycerate kinase, testis specific