Epigenetic Regulation of Claudin-1 in the Development of Ovarian Cancer Recurrence and Drug Resistance.


Over 21,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer (OC) in the United States each year and over half that number succumb to this disease annually, often due to recurrent disease. A deeper understanding of the molecular events associated with recurrent disease is needed to identify potential targets. Using genome-scale DNA methylation and gene expression data for 16 matched primary-recurrent advanced stage serous epithelial OCs, we discovered that Claudin-1 (CLDN1), a tight junction protein, shows a stronger correlation between expression and methylation in recurrent versus primary OC at multiple CpG sites (R= -0.47 to -0.64 versus R= -0.32 to -0.57, respectively). An independent dataset showed that this correlation is stronger in tumors from short-term (<3y) survivors than in tumors from long-term (>7y) survivors (R= -0.41 to -0.46 versus R= 0.06 to -0.19, respectively). The presence of this inverse correlation in short-term survivors and recurrent tumors suggests an important role for this relationship and potential predictive value for disease prognosis. CLDN1 expression increased following pharmacologic inhibition of DNA methyltransferase activity (p< 0.001), thus validating the role of methylation in CLDN1 gene inhibition. CLDN1 knockdown enhanced chemosensitivity and suppressed cell proliferation, migration, and wound healing (p< 0.05). Stable CLDN1 knockdown in vivo resulted in reduced xenograft tumor growth but did not reach significance. Our results indicate that the relationship between CLDN1 methylation and expression plays an important role in OC aggressiveness and recurrence.





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Publication Info

Visco, Zachary R, Gregory Sfakianos, Carole Grenier, Marie-Helene Boudreau, Sabrina Simpson, Isabel Rodriguez, Regina Whitaker, Derek Y Yao, et al. (2021). Epigenetic Regulation of Claudin-1 in the Development of Ovarian Cancer Recurrence and Drug Resistance. Frontiers in oncology, 11. p. 620873. 10.3389/fonc.2021.620873 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/27545.

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Andrew Berchuck

James M. Ingram Distinguished Professor of Gynecologic Oncology

Dr. Andrew Berchuck is Director of the Duke Division of Gynecologic Oncology and holds the James M. Ingram Distinguished Professorship. He is a practicing oncologist who is actively involved in the surgical and chemotherapy management of women with ovarian, endometrial and lower genital tract cancers. This includes minimally invasive laparoscopic surgical approaches. He also has developed a research program that focuses on the molecular-genetic alterations involved in malignant transformation of the ovarian and endometrial epithelium. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed papers in these areas. The objectives of his research include 1) identification of ovarian cancer susceptibility polymorphisms through a population-based case-control molecular epidemiologic study, and 2) use of genomic approaches  to elucidate the molecular heterogenetity of ovarian cancer. Thirty fellows and residents have worked in his lab, several of whom are now funded investigators. His research efforts have been recognized nationally and he has received awards for best oral presentation at the annual meetings of both the Society of Gynecologic Oncology and the International Gynecologic Cancer Society. Dr. Berchuck was awarded the Barbara Thomason Ovarian Cancer Research Professorship by the American Cancer Society in 2006. He has served as editor of several books in the field including Principles and Practice of Gynecologic Oncology. Dr. Berchuck also has a major commitment to national activities, and was President of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology in 2008. He served as chair of the scientific advisory committee of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (http://www.ocrf.org) in New York City. Finally, he is also head of the steering committee of the international Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC), a group of 50 case-control studies that are working together to identify ovarian cancer susceptibility polymorphisms (www.srl.cam.ac.uk/consortia/ocac/index.html).


Susan Kay Murphy

Associate Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Murphy is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and serves as Chief of the Division of Reproductive Sciences. As a molecular biologist with training in human epigenetics, her research interests are largely centered around the role of epigenetic modifications in health and disease. 

Dr. Murphy has ongoing projects on gynecologic malignancies, including approaches to eradicate ovarian cancer cells that survive chemotherapy and later give rise to recurrent disease. Dr. Murphy is actively involved in many collaborative projects relating to the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD).

Her lab is currently working on preconception environmental exposures in males, particularly on the impact of cannabis on the sperm epigenome and the potential heritability of these effects. They are also studying the epigenetic and health effects of in utero exposures, with primary focus on children from the Newborn Epigenetics STudy (NEST), a pregnancy cohort she co-founded who were recruited from central North Carolina between 2005 and 2011. Dr. Murphy and her colleagues continue to follow NEST children to determine relationships between prenatal exposures and later health outcomes.


Zhiqing Huang

Assistant Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Dr. Huang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Reproductive Sciences, at Duke University Medical Center. She obtained her MD at North China Coal Medical University in China and her PhD at the University of Heidelberg in Germany under the mentorship of Dr. Ralph Witzgall. She did her postdoctoral training with Dr. Jiemin Wong at Baylor College of Medicine, studying how histone methylation and chromatin modifications regulate androgen receptor transcription. 

Dr. Huang’s research includes the following:

•The factors in the tumor microenvironment contribute to ovarian cancer progress;
•New drug development for recurrent ovarian cancer treatment;
•The early DNA methylation profiles contribute to cancer development in late life;
•The special changes in the tumor microenvironment;
•Epigenetics and epigenomics.
*The impact of lipid metabolism in the tumor microenvironment in cancer progression and treatment.
*Impact of ferroptosis in endometriosis development. 

Dr. Huang has received an R03 funding titled “Role of Age-Related Changes in the Tumor Microenvironment on Ovarian Cancer Progression” from NIA at NIH for 2021-2023.
Dr. Huang received Charles B. Hammond's Research Fund from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University in November 2022, for a project titled "Single Cell Spatial Transcriptomics in Highly Aggressive and Less Aggressive Ovarian Cancer".
Dr. Huang has received Duke Cancer Institute 2023 spring pilot study award for07012023-06302024, the project title is "Age Effects on Chemotherapy Targeting Cells Causing Ovarian Cancer Recurrence”.
Dr. Huang has received the American Cancer Society -Duke Cancer Institute (ASC-DCI) 2024 spring pilot study award for 07012024-06302025. The project title is "Early Establishment of Epigenetic Profiles that Increase Cancer Risk in Late Life”.
Dr. Huang received Charles B. Hammond's Research Fund from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University in November 2023 for 01012024-12312024. The project's title is "Age Effects on Chemotherapy Targeting Cells Causing Ovarian Cancer Recurrence".

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