Epigenetic targeting of adipocytes inhibits high-grade serous ovarian cancer cell migration and invasion

Jessica Tang, Nicholas Pulliam, Ali Ozeş, Aaron Buechlein, Ning Ding, Harold Keer, Doug Rusch, Heather O'Hagan, M. Sharon Stack, Kenneth P. Nephew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Ovarian cancer (OC) cells frequently metastasize to the omentum, and adipocytes play a significant role in ovarian tumor progression. Therapeutic interventions targeting aberrant DNA methylation in ovarian tumors have shown promise in the clinic, but the effects of epigenetic therapy on the tumor microenvironment are understudied. Here, we examined the effect of adipocytes on OC cell behavior in culture and impact of targeting DNA methylation in adipocytes on OC metastasis. The presence of adipocytes increased OC cell migration and invasion, and proximal and direct coculture of adipocytes increased OC proliferation alone or after treatment with carboplatin. Treatment of adipocytes with hypomethylating agent guadecitabine decreased migration and invasion of OC cells toward adipocytes. Subcellular protein fractionation of adipocytes treated with guadecitabine revealed decreased DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) levels even in the presence of DNA synthesis inhibitor, aphidicolin. Methyl-Capture- and RNA-sequencing analysis of guadecitabine-treated adipocytes revealed derepression of tumor-suppressor genes and epithelial–mesenchymal transition inhibitors. SUSD2, a secreted tumor suppressor downregulated by promoter CpG island methylation in adipocytes, was upregulated after guadecitabine treatment, and recombinant SUSD2 decreased OC cell migration and invasion. Integrated analysis of the methylomic and transcriptomic data identified pathways associated with inhibition of matrix metalloproteases and fatty acid a-oxidation, suggesting a possible mechanism of how epigenetic therapy of adipocytes decreases metastasis. In conclusion, the effect of DNMT inhibitor on fully differentiated adipocytes suggests that hypomethylating agents may affect the tumor microenvironment to decrease cancer cell metastasis. Implications: Epigenetic targeting of tumor microenvironment can affect metastatic behavior of ovarian cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1226-1240
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Cancer Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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