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Trillsch, Fabian; Kuerti, Sascha; Eulenburg, Christine; Burandt, Eike; Woelber, Linn; Prieske, Katharina; Eylmann, Kathrin; Oliveira-Ferrer, Leticia; Milde-Langosch, Karin; Mahner, Sven (2016): E-Cadherin fragments as potential mediators for peritoneal metastasis in advanced epithelial ovarian cancer. In: British Journal of Cancer, Vol. 114, No. 2: pp. 213-220
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Abstract

Background: Peritoneal dissemination and retroperitoneal lymph node involvement are main routes for tumour spread of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), possibly determined by the intercellular connecting protein E-Cadherin (E-Cad) and its fragments. Methods: Tumour tissue of 105 advanced EOC patients was evaluated for protein expression of E-Cad, beta-Catenin and Calpain by western blotting and immunohistochemistry. Expression patterns were compared between tumours with solely intraperitoneal (pT3c, pN0;n = 41) and tumours with retroperitoneal metastases (pT1a-3c, pN1;n = 64). Lysates of the EOC cell line SKOV3 and tumour tissue from the intraperitoneal group were tested for E-Cad expression following Calpain treatment. Results: E-Cad full-length (E-Cad-FL, 120 kDa) and two major fragments at 85 kDa (E-Cad-85) and 23 kDa (E-Cad-23) were detected by western blotting. E-Cad-85 expression was significantly higher in tumours with solely intraperitoneal metastases and correlated strongly with E-Cad-23 and the protease Calpain. Calpain-mediated cleavage was identified as a potential mechanism to generate E-Cad-85 from E-Cad-FL by treating lysates from SKOV3 cells and tumour tissue with this enzyme. Increased cytoplasmic localisation of beta-Catenin in tumours with high E-Cad-85 expression corroborates that E-Cad-85 loses the binding site for beta-Catenin after fragmentation, enabling tumour cluster formation and peritoneal dissemination. Conclusions: Calpain-mediated E-Cad fragmentation appears to promote intraperitoneal EOC progression. Understanding these mechanisms might eventually lead to new tailored subtype-specific diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.