ULBP2 and RAET1E NKG2D ligands are independent predictors of poor prognosis in ovarian cancer patients

Int J Cancer. 2010 Sep 1;127(6):1412-20. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25156.


The human activating immune receptor, NKG2D, binds to a diverse array of cellular ligands of the MIC and unique long 16 (UL16)-binding protein (ULBP)/retinoic acid early transcript (RAET) family. NKG2D is thought to participate in anticancer immune responses. By using tissue microarrays representing over 300 patients with defined clinicopathological factors, we present the first comprehensive screen of the expression of all NKG2D ligands in primary ovarian cancers. NKG2D ligands were expressed by the majority of tumors; however, the level of expression varied considerably. By categorizing each tumor as having negative, low or high expression, it was shown that high expression of several NKG2D ligands is inversely correlated with disease survival. Patients whose tumors had high expression of RAET1E (p = 0.037), ULBP1 (p = 0.036) and ULBP3 (p = 0.004) surviving a median of 11, 14 and 11 months, respectively, compared with disease-specific survival of 29, 30 and 25 months in patients whose tumors showed no expression of these ligands. These results contrast with previous findings showing that high level NKG2D ligand expression is associated with good prognosis in colorectal cancer and suggest a fundamental difference in the involvement of NKG2D-mediated immunity in these two types of cancer. By using multivariate analysis, the factors retaining independent prognostic significance were International Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetricians stage (p < 0.001), presence of residual disease (p = 0.003), ULBP2 (p = 0.042) and RAET1E (p = 0.030).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prognosis


  • Carrier Proteins
  • GPI-Linked Proteins
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Ligands
  • Membrane Proteins
  • RAET1E protein, human
  • ULBP2 protein, human