Involvement of Protease-Activated Receptor2 Pleckstrin Homology Binding Domain in Ovarian Cancer: Expression in Fallopian Tubes and Drug Design

Biomedicines. 2024 Jan 22;12(1):246. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines12010246.


Studying primordial events in cancer is pivotal for identifying predictive molecular indicators and for targeted intervention. While the involvement of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in cancer is growing, GPCR-based therapies are yet rare. Here, we demonstrate the overexpression of protease-activated receptor 2 (PAR2), a GPCR member in the fallopian tubes (FTs) of high-risk BRCA carriers as compared to null in healthy tissues of FT. FTs, the origin of ovarian cancer, are known to express genes of serous tubal intraepithelial carcinoma (STICs), a precursor lesion of high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC). PAR2 expression in FTs may serve as an early prediction sensor for ovarian cancer. We show now that knocking down Par2 inhibits ovarian cancer peritoneal dissemination in vivo, pointing to the central role of PAR2. Previously we identified pleckstrin homology (PH) binding domains within PAR1,2&4 as critical sites for cancer-growth. These motifs associate with PH-signal proteins via launching a discrete signaling network in cancer. Subsequently, we selected a compound from a library of backbone cyclic peptides generated toward the PAR PH binding motif, namely the lead compound, Pc(4-4). Pc(4-4) binds to the PAR PH binding domain and blocks the association of PH-signal proteins, such as Akt or Etk/Bmx with PAR2. It attenuates PAR2 oncogenic activity. The potent inhibitory function of Pc(4-4) is demonstrated via inhibition of ovarian cancer peritoneal spread in mice. While the detection of PAR2 may serve as a predictor for ovarian cancer, the novel Pc(4-4) compound may serve as a powerful medicament in STICs and ovarian cancer. This is the first demonstration of the involvement of PAR PH binding motif signaling in ovarian cancer and Pc(4-4) as a potential therapy treatment.

Keywords: G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs); fallopian tubes (FTs); ovarian cancer; pleckstrin homology (PH) domain; protease-activated receptors (PARs).

Grants and funding

This study was supported by the Israel Science Foundation; ISF number 1420 and Kamin Program (2018–2020) by the Israel Innovation Authority (to R. Bar-Shavit).