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Understanding the Unique Attributes of MUC16 (CA125): Potential Implications in Targeted Therapy.
ABSTRACT: CA125, the most widely used ovarian cancer biomarker, was first identified approximately 35 years ago in an antibody screen against ovarian cancer antigen. Two decades later, it was cloned and characterized to be a transmembrane mucin, MUC16. Since then, several studies have investigated its expression, functional, and mechanistic involvement in multiple cancer types. Antibody-based therapeutic approaches primarily using antibodies against the tandem repeat domains of MUC16 (e.g., oregovomab and abagovomab) have been the modus operandi for MUC16-targeted therapy, but have met with very limited success. In addition, efforts have been also made to disrupt the functional cooperation of MUC16 and its interacting partners; for example, use of a novel immunoadhesin HN125 to interfere MUC16 binding to mesothelin. Since the identification of CA125 to be MUC16, it is hypothesized to undergo proteolytic cleavage, a process that is considered to be critical in determining the kinetics of MUC16 shedding as well as generation of a cell-associated carboxyl-terminal fragment with potential oncogenic functions. In addition to our experimental demonstration of MUC16 cleavage, recent studies have demonstrated the functional importance of carboxyl terminal fragments of MUC16 in multiple tumor types. Here, we provide how our understanding of the basic biologic processes involving MUC16 influences our approach toward MUC16-targeted therapy.
Project description:Cancer antigen 125 (CA125) is a blood biomarker that is routinely used to monitor the progression of human epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) and is encoded by MUC16, a member of the mucin gene family. The biological function of CA125/MUC16 and its potential role in EOC are poorly understood. Here we report the targeted disruption of the of the Muc16 gene in the mouse. To generate Muc16 knockout mice, 6.0 kb was deleted that included the majority of exon 3 and a portion of intron 3 and replaced with a lacZ reporter cassette. Loss of Muc16 protein expression suggests that Muc16 homozygous mutant mice are null mutants. Muc16 homozygous mutant mice are viable, fertile, and develop normally. Histological analysis shows that Muc16 homozygous mutant tissues are normal. By the age of 1 year, Muc16 homozygous mutant mice appear normal. Downregulation of transcripts from another mucin gene (Muc1) was detected in the Muc16 homozygous mutant uterus. Lack of any prominent abnormal phenotype in these Muc16 knockout mice suggests that CA125/MUC16 is not required for normal development or reproduction. These knockout mice provide a unique platform for future studies to identify the role of CA125/MUC16 in organ homeostasis and ovarian cancer.
Project description:Over three decades have passed since the first report on the expression of CA125 by ovarian tumors. Since that time our understanding of ovarian cancer biology has changed significantly to the point that these tumors are now classified based on molecular phenotype and not purely on histological attributes. However, CA125 continues to be, with the recent exception of HE4, the only clinically reliable diagnostic marker for ovarian cancer. Many large-scale clinical trials have been conducted or are underway to determine potential use of serum CA125 levels as a screening modality or to distinguish between benign and malignant pelvic masses. CA125 is a peptide epitope of a 3-5 million Da mucin, MUC16. Here we provide an in-depth review of the literature to highlight the importance of CA125 as a prognostic and diagnostic marker for ovarian cancer. We focus on the increasing body of literature describing the biological role of MUC16 in the progression and metastasis of ovarian tumors. Finally, we consider previous and on-going efforts to develop therapeutic approaches to eradicate ovarian tumors by targeting MUC16. Even though CA125 is a crucial marker for ovarian cancer, the exact structural definition of this antigen continues to be elusive. The importance of MUC16/CA125 in the diagnosis, progression and therapy of ovarian cancer warrants the need for in-depth research on the biochemistry and biology of this mucin. A renewed focus on MUC16 is likely to culminate in novel and more efficient strategies for the detection and treatment of ovarian cancer.
Project description:The CA125 antigen is found in the serum of many patients with serous ovarian cancer and has been widely used as a disease marker. CA125 has been shown to be an independent factor for clinical outcome in this disease. In The Cancer Genome Atlas ovarian cancer project, MUC16 expression levels are frequently increased, and the highest levels of MUC16 expression are linked to a significantly worse survival. To examine the biologic effect of the proximal portion of MUC16/CA125, NIH/3T3 (3T3) fibroblast cell lines were stably transfected with the carboxy elements of MUC16. As few as 114 amino acids from the carboxy-terminal portion of MUC16 were sufficient to increase soft agar growth, promote matrigel invasion, and increase the rate of tumor growth in athymic nude mice. Transformation with carboxy elements of MUC16 was associated with activation of the AKT and ERK pathways. MUC16 transformation was associated with up-regulation of a number of metastases and invasion gene transcripts, including IL-1?, MMP2, and MMP9. All observed oncogenic changes were exclusively dependent on the extracellular "ectodomain" of MUC16. The biologic impact of MUC16 was also explored through the creation of a transgenic mouse model expressing 354 amino acids of the carboxy-terminal portion of MUC16 (MUC16c354). Under a CMV, early enhancer plus chicken ? actin promoter (CAG) MUC16c354 was well expressed in many organs, including the brain, colon, heart, kidney, liver, lung, ovary, and spleen. MUC16c354 transgenic animals appear to be viable, fertile, and have a normal lifespan. However, when crossed with p53-deficient mice, the MUC16c354:p53+/- progeny displayed a higher frequency of spontaneous tumor development compared to p53+/- mice alone. We conclude that the carboxy-terminal portion of the MUC16/CA125 protein is oncogenic in NIH/3T3 cells, increases invasive tumor properties, activates the AKT and ERK pathways, and contributes to the biologic properties of ovarian cancer.
Project description:To examine single nucleotide polymorphism (SNPs) in MUC16 (CA125) and MUC1 (CA15.3) in relation to ovarian cancer risk and survival.We genotyped germline variants of MUC16 (rs2547065, rs1559168, rs12984471, rs2121133) and MUC1 (rs2070803, rs4072037, rs1045253) using samples collected from 758 ovarian cancer cases and 788 controls enrolled in the New England Case-Control Study between 2003 and 2008. We calculated age-adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for disease risk using unconditional and polytomous logistic regression and hazard ratios (HR) for survival using Cox proportional hazard ratios. In a subset of cases, we compared log-normalized CA125 values by genotype using generalized linear models.Cases homozygous for the variant allele of MUC16 SNP, rs12984471, had poorer overall survival (log-rank p = 0.03) and higher CA125 levels, especially cases over age 65 (p = 0.01). For MUC1 SNP, rs4072037, women homozygous for the G variant had a non-significantly decreased risk for serous invasive types but elevated risk for serous borderline tumors, mucinous borderline and invasive tumors, and endometrioid tumors. Women with the variant allele of MUC16 SNP, rs2547065, especially those who were homozygous had an elevated risk for ovarian cancer; but this association was not confirmed in an independent dataset.This targeted screen of seven polymorphisms of MUC16 and MUC1 genes failed to identify and confirm effects on ovarian cancer risk overall. However, there may be effects of MUC16 rs12984471 on survival and MUC1 rs4072037 on risk for histologic types of ovarian cancer other than invasive serous. Further study is warranted.
Project description:The ovarian tumor marker CA125 is expressed on human MUC16, a cell surface bound mucin that is also shed by proteolytic cleavage. Human MUC16 is overexpressed by ovarian cancer cells. MUC16 facilitates the binding of ovarian tumor cells to mesothelial cells lining the peritoneal cavity. Additionally, MUC16 also is a potent inhibitor of natural killer cell mediated anti-tumor cytotoxic responses. Extensive studies using human as well as murine ovarian tumor cell models are required to clearly define the function of MUC16 in the progression of ovarian tumors. The major objective of this study was to determine if the murine ovarian tumor cells, MOVCAR, express Muc16 and to characterize antibodies that recognize this mucin.RT-PCR analysis was used for detecting the Muc16 message and size exclusion column chromatography for isolating Muc16 produced by MOVCAR cells. Soluble and cell-associated murine Muc16 were analyzed, respectively, by Western blotting and flow cytometry assays using a new panel of antibodies. The presence of N-linked oligosaccharides on murine Muc16 was determined by ConA chromatography.We demonstrate that murine Muc16 is expressed by mouse ovarian cancer cells as an ~250 kDa glycoprotein that carries both O-linked and N-linked oligosaccharides. In contrast to human MUC16, the murine ortholog is primarily released from the cells and cannot be detected on the cell surface. Since the released murine Muc16 is not detected by conventional anti-CA125 assays, we have for the first time identified a panel of anti-human MUC16 antibodies that also recognizes the murine counterpart.The antibodies identified in this study can be used in future purification of murine Muc16 and exhaustive study of its properties. Furthermore, the initial identification and characterization of murine Muc16 is a vital preliminary step in the development of effective murine models of human ovarian cancer. These models will aid in the further elucidation of the role that human MUC16 plays in the etiology and progression of ovarian tumors.
Project description:MUC16, precursor of the most widely used ovarian cancer biomarker CA125, is up regulated in multiple malignancies and is associated with poor prognosis. While the pro-tumorigenic and metastatic roles of MUC16 are ascribed to the cell-associated carboxyl-terminal MUC16 (MUC16-Cter), the exact biochemical nature of MUC16 cleavage generating MUC16-Cter has remained unknown. Using different lengths of dual-epitope (N-terminal FLAG- and C-terminal HA-Tag) tagged C-terminal MUC16 fragments, we demonstrate that MUC16 cleavage takes place in the juxta-membrane ectodomain stretch of twelve amino acids that generates a ~17?kDa cleaved product and is distinct from the predicted sites. This was further corroborated by domain swapping experiment. Further, the cleavage of MUC16 was found to take place in the Golgi/post-Golgi compartments and is dependent on the acidic pH in the secretory pathway. A similar pattern of ~17?kDa cleaved MUC16 was observed in multiple cell types eliminating the possibility of cell type specific phenomenon. MUC16-Cter translocates to the nucleus in a cleavage dependent manner and binds to the chromatin suggesting its involvement in regulation of gene expression. Taken together, we demonstrate for the first time the oft-predicted cleavage of MUC16 that is critical in designing successful therapeutic interventions based on MUC16.
Project description:Most of the currently used cancer chemotherapies are based on compounds that inhibit general cellular mechanisms, such as DNA replication or tubulin function, and lack specificity in relation to features of the cancer cell. Recent advances in genomic studies have increased our knowledge of tumor cell biology, and a panoply of new targets have been postulated. This has provided an opportunity to develop and validate drugs that specifically target cancer cells through their unique genetic characteristics. Identification of MUC16/CA125 both as a marker and a driver of transformation led us to design a target-based high-content screen to identify and classify compounds that exhibit differential effect on MUC16-expressing cells. We developed a coculture assay in 384-well plate containing isogenic ovarian cancer cells that are positive or negative for the MUC16 protein. High-throughput screening of our small molecule pilot library led to the identification of compounds preferentially cytotoxic to MUC16(+) or MUC16(-) cells, using a Preferential Score analysis. We compared screening results in both A2780 and SK-OV-3 ovarian cancer cells in single and coculture settings. We also identified compounds that were cytotoxic for both types of ovarian cancer cells regardless of the MUC16 status. Compounds that were preferentially targeting MUC16 cells were subsequently confirmed by caspase-induction assays. The isogenic, dual-color fluorescence strategy is an innovative approach that can effectively identify novel drug candidates, selectively targeting cancer cells that have unique molecular properties.
Project description:Ovarian cancer and malignant mesothelioma frequently express both mesothelin and CA125 (also known as MUC16) at high levels on the cell surface. The interaction between mesothelin and CA125 may facilitate the implantation and peritoneal spread of tumors by cell adhesion, whereas the detailed nature of this interaction is still unknown. Here, we used truncated mutagenesis and alanine replacement techniques to identify a binding site on mesothelin for CA125. We examined the molecular interaction by Western blot overlay assays and further quantitatively analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We also evaluated the binding on cancer cells by flow cytometry. We identified the region (296-359) consisting of 64 amino acids at the N-terminal of cell surface mesothelin as the minimum fragment for complete binding activity to CA125. We found that substitution of tyrosine 318 with an alanine abolished CA125 binding. Replacement of tryptophan 321 and glutamic acid 324 with alanine could partially decrease binding to CA125, whereas mutation of histidine 354 had no effect. These results indicate that a conformation-sensitive structure of the region (296-359) is required and sufficient for the binding of mesothelin to CA125. In addition, we have shown that a single chain monoclonal antibody (SS1) recognizes this CA125-binding domain and blocks the mesothelin-CA125 interaction on cancer cells. The identified CA125-binding domain significantly inhibits cancer cell adhesion and merits evaluation as a new therapeutic agent for preventing or treating peritoneal malignant tumors.
Project description:MUC16 is overexpressed in ovarian cancer and plays important roles in invasion and metastasis. Previously described monoclonal antibodies against cell surface expressed MUC16 recognize the N-terminal tandemly repeated epitopes present in cancer antigen 125 (CA125). MUC16 is cleaved at a specific location, thus, releasing CA125 into the extracellular space. Recent reports have indicated that the retained carboxy-terminal (CT) fragment of MUC16 might play an important role in tumorigenicity in diverse types of cancers. However, limited data is available on the fate and existence of CT fragment on the surface of the cancer cell. Herein, we characterize two monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) showing specificity to the retained juxtamembrane region of MUC16. For the first time, we demonstrate that MUC16 is cleaved in ovarian cancer cells (NIH:OVCAR-3 [OVCAR-3]) and that the cleaved MUC16 subunits remain associated with each other. Immunohistochemical analyses on different grades of ovarian tumor tissues indicated differential reactivity of CA125 and MUC16 CT mAbs. The CA125 (M11) mAb detected 32/40 (80%), while the CT mAb (5E6) detected 33/40 (82.5%) of total ovarian cancer cases. For serous and serous papillary cases, the CA125 (M11) mAb stained 27/31 cases (87%), while CT mAb (5E6) stained 29/31 cases (93.5%). The CT mAb(s) accurately predict expression of MUC16 since their epitopes are not tandemly repeated and their reactivity may not be dependent on O-linked glycosylation. These antibodies can serve as valuable reagents for understanding MUC16 cleavage and may also serve as potential therapeutic agents for treatment of ovarian cancer.
Project description:Mucin 16 (MUC16) is a type I transmembrane protein, the extracellular portion of which is shed after proteolytic degradation and is denoted as CA125 antigen, a well known tumor marker for ovarian cancer. Regarding its polypeptide and glycan structures, as yet there is no detailed insight into their heterogeneity and ligand properties, which may greatly influence its function and biomarker potential. This study was aimed at obtaining further insight into the biological capacity of MUC16/CA125, using in silico analysis of corresponding mucin sequences, including similarity searches as well as GO (gene ontology)-based function prediction. The results obtained pointed to the similarities within extracellular serine/threonine rich regions of MUC16 to sequences of proteins expressed in evolutionary distant taxa, all having in common an annotated role in adhesion-related processes. Specifically, a homology to conserved domains from the family of herpesvirus major outer envelope protein (BLLF1) was found. In addition, the possible involvement of MUC16/CA125 in carbohydrate-binding interactions or cellular transport of protein/ion was suggested.