Ascites from ovarian cancer patients stimulates MUC16 mucin expression and secretion in human peritoneal mesothelial cells through an Akt-dependent pathway
CA125 is a well-established ovarian cancer (OC) serum biomarker. The CA125 heavily glycosylated epitope is carried by the MUC16 mucin, a high molecular weight transmembrane mucin. Upon proteolytic cleavage, the extracellular domain of MUC16 is released from the cell surface into malignant ascites and blood vessels. Previous studies have shown that both tumor and surrounding mesothelial cells may express MUC16. Although little is known about the regulation of MUC16 expression in these cells,
... in these cells, recent evidence suggest that inflammatory cytokines may stimulate MUC16 expression. Because malignant ascites is a pro-inflammatory environment, we investigated whether OC ascites stimulate the expression and release of MUC16 by human peritoneal mesothelial cells (HPMCs). Methods: HPMCs were isolated from peritoneal lavages of women operated for conditions other than cancer. MUC16 protein expression was determined by immunoblot, immunofluorescence or immunohistochemistry depending on the experiments. The release of MUC16 from the cell surface was measured using EIA and MUC16 mRNA expression by ddPCR. Results: We show that high-grade serous ascites from patients with OC (n = 5) enhance MUC16 expression in HPMCs. Malignant ascites, but not benign peritoneal fluids, stimulate the release of MUC16 in HPMCs in a dosedependent manner, which is abrogated by heat inactivation. Moreover, we establish that ascites-induced MUC16 expression occurs at the post-transcriptional level and demonstrate that ascites-induced MUC16 expression is mediated, at least partially, through an Akt-dependent pathway. A cytokine array identified upregulation of several cytokines and chemokines in ascites that mediate MUC16 upregulation versus those that do not, including CCL7, CCL8, CCL16, CCL20, CXCL1, IL-6, IL-10, HGF and IL-1 R4. However, when individually tested, none of these factors affected MUC16 expression or secretion. Concentrations of CA125 in the serum of a given patient did not correlate with the ability of its corresponding ascites to stimulate MUC16 release in HPMCs. Conclusions: Collectively, these data indicate that mesothelial cells are an important source of MUC16 in the context of ovarian cancer and malignant ascites is a strong modulator of MUC16 expression in HPMCs and uncover the Akt pathway as a driving factor for upregulation of MUC16. Factors in ascites associated with enhanced MUC16 expression and release remains to be identified.