Ovarian BDNF promotes survival, migration, and attachment of tumor precursors originated from p53 mutant fallopian tube epithelial cells

Oncogenesis. 2020 May 29;9(5):55. doi: 10.1038/s41389-020-0243-y.


High-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSOC) is the most lethal gynecological malignancy. New evidence supports a hypothesis that HGSOC can originate from fallopian tube epithelium (FTE). It is unclear how genetic alterations and pathophysiological processes drive the progression of FTE tumor precursors into widespread HGSOCs. In this study, we uncovered that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the follicular fluid stimulates the tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB)-expressing FTE cells to promote their survival, migration, and attachment. Using in vitro and in vivo models, we further identified that the acquisition of common TP53 gain-of-function (GOF) mutations in FTE cells led to enhanced BDNF/TrkB signaling compared to that of FTE cells with TP53 loss-of-function (LOF) mutations. Different mutant p53 proteins can either increase TrkB transcription or enhance TrkB endocytic recycling. Our findings have demonstrated possible interplays between genetic alterations in FTE tumor precursors (i.e., p53 GOF mutations) and pathophysiological processes (i.e., the release of follicular fluid upon ovulation) during the initiation of HGSOC from the fallopian tube. Our data revealed molecular events underlying the link between HGSOC tumorigenesis and ovulation, a physiological process that has been associated with risk factors of HGSOC.