TIMP-2 regulates proliferation, invasion and STAT3-mediated cancer stem cell-dependent chemoresistance in ovarian cancer cells

Ruth Escalona, Maree Bilandzic, Patrick Western, Elif Kadife, George Kannourakis, Jock K Findlay, Nuzhat Ahmed

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Background: The metzincin family of metalloproteinases and the tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) are essential proteins required for biological processes during cancer progression. This study aimed to determine the role of TIMP-2 in ovarian cancer progression and chemoresistance by reducing TIMP-2 expression in vitro in Fallopian tube secretory epithelial (FT282) and ovarian cancer (JHOS2 and OVCAR4) cell lines. Methods: FT282, JHOS2 and OVCAR4 cells were transiently transfected with either single or pooled TIMP-2 siRNAs. The expression of different genes after TIMP-2 knock down (T2-KD) or in response to chemotherapy was determined at the mRNA level by quantitative real time PCR (qRT-PCR) and at the protein level by immunofluorescence. Sensitivity of the cell lines in response to chemotherapy after TIMP-2 knock down was investigated by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) and 5-Ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine (EdU) assays. Cell invasion in response to TIMP-2 knockdown was determined by xCELLigence. Results: Sixty to 90 % knock down of TIMP-2 expression was confirmed in FT282, OVCAR4 and JHOS2 cell lines at the mRNA and protein levels. TIMP-2 knock down did not change the mRNA expression of TIMP-1 or TIMP-3. However, a significant downregulation of MMP-2 in T2-KD cells occurred at both the protein and activation levels, compared to Control (Cont; scrambled siRNA) and Parental cells (P, transfection reagent only). In contrast, membrane bound MT1-MMP protein levels were significantly upregulated in T2-KD compared to Cont and P cells. T2-KD cells exhibited enhanced proliferation and increased sensitivity to cisplatin and paclitaxel treatments. Enhanced invasion was observed in the T2-KD-JOSH2 and OVCAR4 cells but not in T2-KD-FT282 cells. Treatment with cisplatin or paclitaxel significantly elevated the expression of TIMP-2 in Cont cells but not in T2-KD cells, consistent with significantly elevated expression of chemoresistance and CSC markers and activation of STAT3. Furthermore, a potent inhibitor of STAT3 activation, Momelotinib, suppressed chemotherapy-induced activation of P-STAT3 in OVCAR4 cells with concomitant reductions in the expression of chemoresistance genes and CSC markers. Conclusions: The above results suggest that TIMP-2 may have a novel role in ovarian cancer proliferation, invasion and chemoresistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number960
Number of pages24
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2020


  • Cancer stem cells
  • Chemosensitivity
  • Invasion
  • MMPs
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Proliferation
  • STAT3
  • TIMP-2

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