Background: Caveolin-1 (CAV1) has been implicated both in tumor suppression and progression, whereby the specific role appears to be context dependent. Endometrial cancer is one of the most common malignancies of the female genital tract; however, little is known about the role of CAV1 in this disease.
Methods: Here, we first determined by immunohistochemistry CAV1 protein levels in normal proliferative human endometrium and endometrial tumor samples. Then using two endometrial cancer cell lines (ECC: Ishikawa and Hec-1A) we evaluated mRNA and protein levels of CAV1 by real time qPCR and Western blot analysis, respectively. The role of CAV1 expression in ECC malignancy was further studied by either inducing its expression in endometrial cancer cells with the tumor promotor 12-O-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate (4β-TPA) or decreasing expression using short-hairpin RNA constructs, and then evaluating the effects of these changes on ECC proliferation, transmigration, matrigel invasion, and colony formation in soft agar.
Results: Immunohistochemical analysis of endometrial epithelia revealed that substantially higher levels of CAV1 were present in endometrial tumors than the normal proliferative epithelium. Also, in Ishikawa and Hec-1A endometrial cancer cells CAV1 expression was readily detectable. Upon treatment with 4β-TPA CAV1 levels increased and coincided with augmented cell transmigration, matrigel invasion, as well as colony formation in soft agar. Reduction of CAV1 expression using short-hairpin RNA constructs ablated these effects in both cell types whether treated or not with 4β-TPA. Alternatively, CAV1 expression appeared not to modulate significantly proliferation of these cells.
Conclusion: Our study shows that elevated CAV1, observed in patients with endometrial cancer, is linked to enhanced malignancy of endometrial cancer cells, as evidenced by increased migration, invasion and anchorage-independent growth.