Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt regulates the balance between plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 and urokinase to promote migration of SKOV-3 ovarian cancer cells

Brandi R Whitley, Lea M Beaulieu, Jennifer C Carter, Frank C Church
Gynecologic Oncology 2007, 104 (2): 470-9

OBJECTIVES: Increased levels of urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) are associated with shortened overall survival in ovarian cancer patients. Additionally, elevated levels of the serine protease inhibitor (serpin), plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), a uPA inhibitor, have also been correlated with an unfavorable prognosis in ovarian cancer. Therefore, it is critical to understand the signaling pathways that regulate PAI-1 and uPA expression in cancer cell migration-invasion.

METHODS: We studied the PI3K/Akt, Rho kinase/ROCK, p38 MAPK and MEK pathways and their modulation of PAI-1 and uPA expression and wound-induced cell migration in SKOV-3 ovarian cancer cells. The PI3K/Akt pathway was further examined using pharmacological inhibitors (LY294002 and wortmannin), Akt siRNA, constitutively active Akt adenovirus and treatment with IGF-1/insulin in the SKOV-3 cells.

RESULTS: The PI3K/Akt pathway negatively regulates PAI-1 expression and positively correlates with migratory abilities and uPA expression in SKOV-3 cells. A reduction in active Akt results in an increase in PAI-1 expression coupled with a decrease in uPA expression to ultimately result in reduced cell migration and invasion. By contrast, an increase in Akt activity reduces PAI-1 expression and results in an increase in SKOV-3 wound-induced cell migration. Furthermore, IGF-1 and insulin stimulated SKOV-3 migration by altering the balance between uPA and PAI-1 to favor uPA, and the enhanced migration was attenuated by treatment with LY294002 indicating PI3K/Akt in this pathway.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest an overall ovarian tumor-protective role for PAI-1, and that the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway regulates the ratio of PAI-1:uPA to either increase or decrease cell migration.

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