Chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor (COUP-TF): an orphan steroid receptor with a specific pattern of differential expression in human ovarian cancer cell lines

Gynecol Oncol. 1993 Nov;51(2):167-70. doi: 10.1006/gyno.1993.1266.


The possible role of a novel steroid receptor in ovarian malignancy was investigated. The evolutionarily conserved orphan steroid receptor COUP-TF (chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor) was originally identified as a protein interacting with an upstream promoter element of the chicken ovalbumin gene. The human receptor protein was purified from a cervical cancer cell line. An immunocytochemical technique for the visualization of COUP-TF was developed using a specific polyclonal rabbit antibody. Four established ovarian cancer cell lines were evaluated. The patterns of COUP-TF expression were compared to the staining intensities of immunocytochemical assays for estrogen receptor (ER), androgen receptor (AR), aromatase, and HER2/neu. A comparison of the ovarian cancer cell lines showed differential expression of COUP-TF in the nucleus. The pattern of COUP-TF expression did not follow the profile of any of the other four variables. In agreement with transfection experiments showing reduction of activity of other steroid receptors by elevated COUP-TF levels, high COUP-TF expression correlated with low ER activity also in native ovarian cancer cells. These data represent the first reported evidence that COUP-TF-like proteins may play a role in the metabolism and possibly in the process of dedifferentiation of human ovarian cancer.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aromatase / metabolism
  • COUP Transcription Factor I
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • COUP Transcription Factor I
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • NR2F1 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Transcription Factors
  • Aromatase
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Receptor, ErbB-2