Aberrant activation of ERK/FOXM1 signaling cascade triggers the cell migration/invasion in ovarian cancer cells

PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23790. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023790. Epub 2011 Aug 17.


Forkhead box M1 (FOXM1) is a proliferation-associated transcription factor essential for cell cycle progression. Numerous studies have documented that FOXM1 has multiple functions in tumorigenesis and its elevated levels are frequently associated with cancer progression. Here, we characterized the role of ERK/FOXM1 signaling in mediating the metastatic potential of ovarian cancer cells. Immunohistochemical (IHC), immunoblotting and semi-quantitative RT-PCR analyses found that both phospho-ERK and FOXM1 were frequently upregulated in ovarian cancers. Intriguingly, the overexpressed phospho-ERK (p<0.001) and FOXM1 (p<0.001) were significantly correlated to high-grade ovarian tumors with aggressive behavior such as metastasized lymph node (5 out of 6). Moreover, the expressions of phospho-ERK and FOXM1 had significantly positive correlation (p<0.001). Functionally, ectopic expression of FOXM1B remarkably enhanced cell migration/invasion, while FOXM1C not only increased cell proliferation but also promoted cell migration/invasion. Conversely, inhibition of FOXM1 expression by either thiostrepton or U0126 could significantly impair FOXM1 mediated oncogenic capacities. However, the down-regulation of FOXM1 by either thiostrepton or U0126 required the presence of p53 in ovarian cancer cells. Collectively, our data suggest that over-expression of FOXM1 might stem from the constitutively active ERK which confers the metastatic capabilities to ovarian cancer cells. The impairment of metastatic potential of cancer cells by FOXM1 inhibitors underscores its therapeutic value in advanced ovarian tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Butadienes / pharmacology
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / genetics
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Forkhead Box Protein M1
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / genetics
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Nitriles / pharmacology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Receptors, Urokinase Plasminogen Activator / genetics
  • Receptors, Urokinase Plasminogen Activator / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Thiostrepton / pharmacology
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism


  • Butadienes
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • FOXM1 protein, human
  • Forkhead Box Protein M1
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Nitriles
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Receptors, Urokinase Plasminogen Activator
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • U 0126
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9
  • Thiostrepton