J Cancer 2020; 11(11):3151-3164. doi:10.7150/jca.37267 This issue

Research Paper

Overexpression of DUSP6 enhances chemotherapy-resistance of ovarian epithelial cancer by regulating the ERK signaling pathway

Yan Gao1*, Hui Li2*, Qing Han2, Yuan Li1, Tongxia Wang1, Cuiyu Huang1, Yiqing Mao2, Xi Wang2, Qun Zhang2, Junrui Tian2, David M. Irwin3✉, Huanran Tan2✉, Hongyan Guo1✉

1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing,
2. Department of Pharmacology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing,
3. Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
*Equal contribution

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). See http://ivyspring.com/terms for full terms and conditions.
Gao Y, Li H, Han Q, Li Y, Wang T, Huang C, Mao Y, Wang X, Zhang Q, Tian J, Irwin DM, Tan H, Guo H. Overexpression of DUSP6 enhances chemotherapy-resistance of ovarian epithelial cancer by regulating the ERK signaling pathway. J Cancer 2020; 11(11):3151-3164. doi:10.7150/jca.37267. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v11p3151.htm

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Objective: DUSP6 is a negative regulator of the ERK signaling pathway and plays an important role in chemotherapy-resistance. Previously we showed that DUSP6 is overexpressed in ovarian cancer side population (SP) cells that possess cancer stem cell-like properties and are quiescent and chemotherapy-resistant. Here, we explore the effects of DUSP6 on chemotherapy-resistance by examining its regulation of the ERK signaling pathway and G0/G1 cell cycle arrest.

Methods: mRNA and protein expression of DUSP6 and G0/G1 cell cycle checkpoint regulating proteins (CyclinD1, CyclinD3 and CyclinE2) was evaluated among ovarian cancer cell lines and tissue samples. Ovarian cancer cells were transiently transfected to overexpress DUSP6. After treatment with cisplatin, cell viability was measured by the MTS assay at 48 hours and the half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) for each cell line was calculated. Subcellular localization and cell cycle analysis were determined by using immunofluorescence and FACS, respectively.

Results: SKOV3 and OVCAR8 SP cells were shown to express higher levels of DUSP6 and lower levels of CyclinD3 compared with non-SP (NSP) cells (P<0.001). Among 39 ovarian cancer tissue samples, expression of DUSP6 in the chemotherapy-resistant group (12 samples) was higher than in the chemotherapy-sensitive group (27 samples) (P<0.05). While a lower level of expression of CyclinD3 was seen in the chemotherapy-resistant group, it was not statistically different from the chemotherapy-sensitive group. HO8910 cells where shown to have higher IC50 to cisplatin than SKOV3 or OVCAR8 cells, and this correlated with higher levels of DUSP6 expression. Overexpression of DUSP6 in SKOV3 cells led to an increase in cisplatin IC50 values (P<0.05), and also markedly reduced the expression levels of phospho-ERK1/2 and CyclinD3 and to the predominance of cells in the G0/G1 phase.

Conclusion: Our findings reveal an enhancement of chemotherapy-resistance and a predominance of cells in G1 cell cycle arrest in DUSP6-overexpressing ovarian cancer cells. This suggests that overexpression of DUSP6 promotes chemotherapy-resistance through the negative regulation of the ERK signaling pathway, increasing the G0/G1 phase ratio among ovarian cancer cells, and leading to cellular quiescence.

Keywords: DUSP6, ERK signaling pathway, side population cell, ovarian epithelial cancer, chemotherapy resistance