Modeling high-grade serous ovarian carcinogenesis from the fallopian tube

Alison M. Karst, Keren Levanon, Ronny Drapkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSOC) is a lethal disease for which improved screening and treatment strategies are urgently needed. Progress in these areas is impeded by our poor understanding of HGSOC pathogenesis. Most ovarian cancer research is based on the hypothesis that HGSOC arises from ovarian surface epithelial cells. However, recent studies suggest that >50% of high-grade serous carcinomas involving the ovary likely arise from fallopian tube epithelium. Therefore, limiting HGSOC research to modeling based on ovarian surface epithelium alone is inadequate. To address the need for a fallopian tube-based model of HGSOC, we have developed a system for studying human fallopian tube secretory epithelial cell (FTSEC) transformation. Our model is based on (i) immortalization of FTSECs isolated from primary samples of normal, nondiseased human fallopian tubes, (ii) transformation of FTSECs with defined genetic elements, and (iii) xenograft-based tumorigenic assays. We use our model to show that FTSECs immortalized with human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) plus SV40 large T and small T antigens are transformed by either oncogenic Ras (H-RasV12) or c-Myc expression, leading to increased proliferation, clonogenicity, and anchorage-independent growth. Additionally, we demonstrate that FTSECs remain susceptible to c-Myc-mediated transformation in the absence of viral oncoproteins, by replacing SV40 large T and small T antigens with sh-p53, mutant CDK4 (CDK4R24C), and sh-PP2A-B56γ. Importantly, all transformed FTSECs gave rise to high-grade Müllerian carcinomas that were grossly, histologically, immunophenotypically, and genomically similar to human HGSOC. With this model, we will now be able to assess the transformative effects of specific genetic alterations on FTSECs in order to characterize their respective roles in HGSOC development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7547-7552
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number18
StatePublished - 3 May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell of origin
  • Fimbria
  • Secretory cell
  • TP53


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