Tissue transglutaminase links TGF-Β, epithelial to mesenchymal transition and a stem cell phenotype in ovarian cancer

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125 Scopus citations


Tissue transglutaminase (TG2), an enzyme involved in cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis is overexpressed in ovarian carcinomas, where it modulates epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and promotes metastasis. Its regulation in ovarian cancer (OC) remains unexplored. Here, we show that transforming growth factor (TGF)-Β, a cytokine involved in tumor dissemination is abundantly secreted in the OC microenvironment and induces TG2 expression and enzymatic activity. This is mediated at transcriptional level by SMADs and by TGF-Β-activated kinase 1-mediated activation of the nuclear factor-B complex. TGF-Β-stimulated OC cells aggregate as spheroids, which enable peritoneal dissemination. We show that TGF-Β-induced TG2 regulates EMT, formation of spheroids and OC metastasis. TG2 knock-down in OC cells decreases the number of cells harboring a cancer stem cell phenotype (CD44 +CD117+). Furthermore, CD44 +CD117+ cells isolated from human ovarian tumors express high levels of TG2. In summary, TGF-Β-induced TG2 enhances ovarian tumor metastasis by inducing EMT and a cancer stem cell phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2521-2534
Number of pages14
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 17 2012



  • cancer stem cells
  • epithelial to mesenchymal transition
  • metastasis
  • ovarian cancer
  • TG2
  • TGF-β

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics

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