Journal of Cancer Stem Cell Research

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Vitronectin in the Ascites of Human Ovarian Carcinoma Acts as a Potent Chemoattractant for Ovarian Carcinoma: Implication for Metastasis by Cancer Stem Cells

Journal of Cancer Stem Cell Research


Vitronectin has been identified mainly as an adhesion protein that signals through uPAR and selected integrin receptors. In addition to its pro-adhesive properties, we identified recently vitronectin as a main chemoattractant present in diluted plasma/serum that directly stimulates migration of cancer cells. We also found that this pro-migratory activity of vitronectin can be quenched by fibrinogen. Based on this we hypothesized that this may explain preference of cancer cell to metastasize to fibrinogen-low microenvironments such as lymphatics or peritoneal cavity. Based on this, we decided to investigate a role of vitronectin in metastasis of ovarian cancer cells to peritoneal cavity. We tested migratory responsiveness of three human ovarian cancer cell lines to ascites isolated from ovarian cancer patients and characterize possible molecules involved in migration of ovarian cancer cells. The ascites samples were exposed to heat inactivation, proteinase K digested, dialyzed and charcoal stripped. We also performed cut-off filtration analysis and by employing ELISA assays to measure concentration of vitronectin in ascites fluid samples. Finally, we employed shRNA against uPAR and small molecular inhibitors of integrin receptors to assess their involvement in biological effects of vitronectin. From our studies, we found that the similarly to diluted plasma, vitronectin in absence of fibrinogen is a main chemotactic/chemokinetic protein present in ascites fluid. We also found that these pro-migratory properties of vitronectin can be quenched by addition of fibrinogen. Our studies also indicate that both uPAR and integrin receptors on ovarian cancer cells regulate migration of these cells to vitronectin gradient. In summary, we identified free soluble vitronectin as a potent direct chemoattractant for ovarian cancer cells and that its activity is suppressed after binding to fibrinogen. Since in ascites fluids vitronectin is present in free form because of a lack or low level of fibrinogen, this could explain preferences of ovarian cancer stem cells to metastasize within peritoneum. We propose that inhibitors which could sequester soluble vitronectin in similar fashion as fibrinogen, could be employed as a novel anti-metastatic drugs.


Pranela Rameshwar, Ph.D.
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