Low junctional adhesion molecule-A expression is associated with an epithelial to mesenchymal transition and poorer outcomes in high-grade serous carcinoma of uterine adnexa

Laudine Communal, Mauricio Medrano, Fabrice Sircoulomb, Joshua Paterson, Martin Köbel, Kurosh Rahimi, Paul Hoskins, Dongsheng Tu, Stephanie Lheureux, Amit Oza, Laurie Ailles, Diane Provencher, Robert Rottapel, Anne-Marie Mes-Masson
Modern Pathology: An Official Journal of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, Inc 2020 June 8
High-grade serous carcinoma of uterine adnexa (HGSC) is the most frequent histotype of epithelial ovarian cancer and has a poor 5-year survival rate due to late-stage diagnosis and the poor efficacy of standard treatments. Novel biomarkers of cancer outcome are needed to identify new targetable pathways and improve personalized treatments. Cell-surface screening of 26 HGSC cell lines by high-throughput flow cytometry identified junctional adhesion molecule 1 (JAM-A, also known as F11R) as a potential biomarker. Using a multi-labeled immunofluorescent staining coupled with digital image analysis, protein levels of JAM-A were quantified in tissue microarrays from three HGSC patient cohorts: a discovery cohort (n = 101), the Canadian Ovarian Experimental Unified Resource cohort (COEUR, n = 1158), and the Canadian Cancer Trials Group OV16 cohort (n = 267). Low JAM-A level was associated with poorer outcome in the three cohorts by Kaplan-Meier (p = 0.023, p < 0.001, and p = 0.036, respectively) and was an independent marker of shorter survival in the COEUR cohort (HR = 0.517 (0.381-703), p < 0.001). When analyses were restricted to patients treated by taxane-platinum-based chemotherapy, low JAM-A protein expression was associated with poorer responses in the COEUR (p < 0.001) and OV16 cohorts (p = 0.006) by Kaplan-Meier. Decreased JAM-A gene expression was an indicator of poor outcome in gene expression datasets including The Cancer Genome Atlas (n = 606, p = 0.002) and Kaplan-Meier plotter (n = 1816, p = 0.024). Finally, we observed that tumors with decreased JAM-A expression exhibited an enhanced epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) signature. Our results demonstrate that JAM-A expression is a robust prognostic biomarker of HGSC and may be used to discriminate tumors responsive to therapies targeting EMT.

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