Raf-1 levels determine the migration rate of primary endometrial stromal cells of patients with endometriosis

J Cell Mol Med. 2012 Sep;16(9):2127-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2011.01520.x.


Endometriosis is a disease characterized by the localization of endometrial tissue outside the uterine cavity. The differences observed in migration of human endometrial stromal cells (hESC) obtained from patients with endometriosis versus healthy controls were proposed to correlate with the abnormal activation of Raf-1/ROCKII signalling pathway. To evaluate the mechanism by which Raf-1 regulates cytoskeleton reorganization and motility, we used primary eutopic (Eu-, n = 16) and ectopic (Ec-, n = 8; isolated from ovarian cysts) hESC of patients with endometriosis and endometriosis-free controls (Co-hESC, n = 14). Raf-1 siRNA knockdown in Co- and Eu-hESC resulted in contraction and decreased migration versus siRNA controls. This phenotype was reversed following the re-expression of Raf-1 in these cells. Lowest Raf-1 levels in Ec-hESC were associated with hyperactivated ROCKII and ezrin/radixin/moesin (E/R/M), impaired migration and a contracted phenotype similar to Raf-1 knockdown in Co- and Eu-hESC. We further show that the mechanism by which Raf-1 mediates migration in hESC includes direct myosin light chain phosphatase (MYPT1) phosphorylation and regulation of the levels of E/R/M, paxillin, MYPT1 and myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation indirectly via the hyperactivation of ROCKII kinase. Furthermore, we suggest that in contrast to Co-and Eu-hESC, where the cellular Raf-1 levels regulate the rate of migration, the low cellular Raf-1 content in Ec-hESC, might ensure their restricted migration by preserving the contracted cellular phenotype. In conclusion, our findings suggest that cellular levels of Raf-1 adjust the threshold of hESC migration in endometriosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cell Movement
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Endometriosis / genetics
  • Endometriosis / physiopathology*
  • Endometrium / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Microfilament Proteins / metabolism
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Phosphatase / genetics
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stromal Cells
  • Young Adult
  • rho-Associated Kinases / genetics
  • rho-Associated Kinases / metabolism


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • ezrin
  • moesin
  • radixin
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf
  • rho-Associated Kinases
  • Myosin-Light-Chain Phosphatase