Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition Supports Ovarian Carcinosarcoma Tumorigenesis and Confers Sensitivity to Microtubule Targeting with Eribulin

Gwo Yaw Ho, Elizabeth L. Kyran, Justin Bedo, Matthew J. Wakefield, Darren P. Ennis, Hasan B. Mirza, Cassandra J. Vandenberg, Elizabeth Lieschke, Andrew Farrell, Anthony Hadla, Ratana Lim, Genevieve Dall, James E. Vince, Ngee Kiat Chua, Olga Kondrashova, Rosanna Upstill-Goddard, Ulla Maja Bailey, Suzanne Dowson, Patricia Roxburgh, Rosalind M. GlasspoolGareth Bryson, Andrew V. Biankin, for the Scottish Genomes Partnership, Susanna L. Cooke, Gayanie Ratnayake, Orla McNally, Nadia Traficante, for the Australian Ovarian Cancer Study, Anna DeFazio, S. John Weroha, David D. Bowtell, Iain A. McNeish, Anthony T. Papenfuss, Clare L. Scott, Holly E. Barker

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Ovarian carcinosarcoma (OCS) is an aggressive and rare tumor type with limited treatment options. OCS is hypothesized to develop via the combination theory, with a single progenitor resulting in carcinomatous and sarcomatous components, or alternatively via the conversion theory, with the sarcomatous component developing from the carcinomatous component through epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In this study, we analyzed DNA variants from isolated carcinoma and sarcoma components to show that OCS from 18 women is monoclonal. RNA sequencing indicated that the carcinoma components were more mesenchymal when compared with pure epithelial ovarian carcinomas, supporting the conversion theory and suggesting that EMT is important in the formation of these tumors. Preclinical OCS models were used to test the efficacy of microtubule-targeting drugs, including eribulin, which has previously been shown to reverse EMT characteristics in breast cancers and induce differentiation in sarcomas. Vinorelbine and eribulin more effectively inhibited OCS growth than standard-of-care platinum-based chemotherapy, and treatment with eribulin reduced mesenchymal characteristics and N-MYC expression in OCS patient-derived xenografts. Eribulin treatment resulted in an accumulation of intracellular cholesterol in OCS cells, which triggered a downregulation of the mevalonate pathway and prevented further cholesterol biosynthesis. Finally, eribulin increased expression of genes related to immune activation and increased the intratumoral accumulation of CD8+ T cells, supporting exploration of immunotherapy combinations in the clinic. Together, these data indicate that EMT plays a key role in OCS tumorigenesis and support the conversion theory for OCS histogenesis. Targeting EMT using eribulin could help improve OCS patient outcomes. SIGNIFICANCE: Genomic analyses and preclinical models of ovarian carcinosarcoma support the conversion theory for disease development and indicate that microtubule inhibitors could be used to suppress EMT and stimulate antitumor immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4457-4473
Number of pages17
JournalCancer Research
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

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