J Cancer 2016; 7(10):1295-1310. doi:10.7150/jca.15371

Research Paper

Increased Expression of Several Collagen Genes is Associated with Drug Resistance in Ovarian Cancer Cell Lines

Radosław Januchowski1✉, Monika Świerczewska1, Karolina Sterzyńska1, Karolina Wojtowicz1, Michał Nowicki1, Maciej Zabel1,2

1. Department of Histology and Embryology, Poznań University of Medical Sciences, Poland;
2. Department of Histology and Embryology, Wroclaw Medical University, Poland.


Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynaecological cancer. The main reason for the high mortality among ovarian cancer patients is the development of drug resistance. The expression of collagen genes by cancer cells can increase drug resistance by inhibiting the penetration of the drug into the cancer tissue as well as increase apoptosis resistance. In this study, we present data that shows differential expression levels of collagen genes and proteins in cisplatin- (CIS), paclitaxel- (PAC), doxorubicin- (DOX), topotecan- (TOP), vincristine- (VIN) and methotrexate- (MTX) resistant ovarian cancer cell lines. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reactions were performed to determine the mRNA levels. Protein expression was detected using Western blot and immunocytochemistry assays. In the drug resistant cell lines, we observed the upregulation of eight collagen genes at the mRNA level and based on these expression levels, we divided the collagen genes into the following three groups:

1. Genes with less than a 50-fold increase in expression: COL1A1, COL5A2, COL12A1 and COL17A1. 2. Genes with greater than a 50-fold increase in expression: COL1A2, COL15A1 and COL21A1. 3. Gene with a very high level of expression: COL3A1. Expression of collagen (COL) proteins from groups 2 and 3 were also confirmed using immunocytochemistry. Western blot analysis showed very high expression levels of COL3A1 protein, and immunocytochemistry analysis showed the presence of extracellular COL3A1 in the W1TR cell line. The cells mainly responsible for the extracellular COL3A1 production are aldehyde dehydrogenase-1A1 (ALDH1A1) positive cells. All correlations between the types of cytostatic drugs and the expression levels of different COL genes were studied, and our results suggest that the expression of fibrillar collagens may be involved in the TOP and PAC resistance of the ovarian cancer cells. The expression pattern of COL genes provide a preliminary view into the role of these proteins in cytostatic drug resistance of cancer cells. The exact role of these COL genes in drug resistance requires further investigation.

Keywords: collagen gene expression, drug resistance, ovarian cancer, stem cells, anticancer therapy.

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How to cite this article:
Januchowski R, Świerczewska M, Sterzyńska K, Wojtowicz K, Nowicki M, Zabel M. Increased Expression of Several Collagen Genes is Associated with Drug Resistance in Ovarian Cancer Cell Lines. J Cancer 2016; 7(10):1295-1310. doi:10.7150/jca.15371. Available from http://www.jcancer.org/v07p1295.htm