Overexpression of pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A in ovarian cancer cells promotes tumor growth in vivo

Endocrinology. 2011 Apr;152(4):1470-8. doi: 10.1210/en.2010-1095. Epub 2011 Feb 8.


Pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A (PAPP-A) is an important regulatory component of the IGF system. Through proteolysis of inhibitory IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs), PAPP-A acts as a positive modulator of local IGF signaling in a variety of biological systems. A role of IGF in the progression of several common forms of human cancer is now emerging, and therapeutic intervention of IGF receptor signaling is currently being explored. However, little is known about the activities of other components of the IGF system in relation to cancer. We hypothesized that PAPP-A acts to enhance tumor growth in vivo. To test this hypothesis, we overexpressed wild-type PAPP-A or a mutant PAPP-A with markedly reduced IGFBP protease activity in SKOV3 cells, a human ovarian carcinoma cell line with low tumorigenic potential. In vitro, SKOV3 clones with elevated PAPP-A expression (PAPP-A-1, PAPP-A-28) showed accelerated anchorage-independent growth in soft agar assays compared to clones overexpressing mutant PAPP-A (E483Q-1, E483Q-5) and vector controls. PAPP-A-28, with the highest PAPP-A expression and IGFBP proteolytic activity, also had markedly increased cell invasion through Matrigel. In vivo, we found significantly accelerated tumor growth rates of PAPP-A-overexpressing SKOV3 clones compared with mutant PAPP-A and controls. Investigation of angiogenesis indicated that overexpression of PAPP-A favored development of mature tumor vasculature and that tumor precursors of PAPP-A-28 in particular had a significantly higher degree of vascularization months before obvious tumor development. In conclusion, our data show that PAPP-A proteolytic activity enhances the tumorigenic potential of ovarian cancer cells and establish a novel tumor growth-promoting role of PAPP-A.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 2 / genetics
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 2 / metabolism
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / genetics
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pregnancy-Associated Plasma Protein-A / genetics
  • Pregnancy-Associated Plasma Protein-A / metabolism*
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 2
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II
  • Pregnancy-Associated Plasma Protein-A