Targeting the Formyl Peptide Receptor type 1 to prevent the adhesion of ovarian cancer cells onto mesothelium and subsequent invasion

Michele Minopoli, Giovanni Botti, Vincenzo Gigantino, Concetta Ragone, Sabrina Sarno, Maria Letizia Motti, Giosuè Scognamiglio, Stefano Greggi, Cono Scaffa, Maria Serena Roca, Maria Patrizia Stoppelli, Gennaro Ciliberto, Nunzia Simona Losito, Maria Vincenza Carriero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: The biological behavior of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is unique since EOC cells metastasize early to the peritoneum. Thereby, new anti-Target agents designed to block trans-coelomic dissemination of EOC cells may be useful as anti-metastatic drugs. The Urokinase Plasminogen Activator Receptor (uPAR) is overexpressed in EOC tissues, and its truncated forms released in sera and/or ascitic fluid are associated with poor prognosis and unfavorable clinical outcome. We documented that uPAR triggers intra-Abdominal dissemination of EOC cells through the interaction of its 84-95 sequence with the Formyl Peptide Receptor type 1 (FPR1), even as short linear peptide Ser-Arg-Ser-Arg-Tyr (SRSRY). While the pro-metastatic role of uPAR is well documented, little information regarding the expression and role of FPR1 in EOC is currently available. Methods: Expression levels of uPAR and FPR1 in EOC cells and tissues were assessed by immunofluorescence, Western blot, or immunohystochemistry. Cell adhesion to extra-cellular matrix proteins and mesothelium as well as mesothelium invasion kinetics by EOC cells were monitored using the xCELLigence technology or assessed by measuring cell-Associated fluorescence. Cell internalization of FPR1 was identified on multiple z-series by confocal microscopy. Data from in vitro assays were analysed by one-way ANOVA and post-hoc Dunnett t-Test for multiple comparisons. Tissue microarray data were analyzed with the Pearson's Chi-square (χ2) test. Results: Co-expression of uPAR and FPR1 by SKOV-3 and primary EOC cells confers a marked adhesion to vitronectin. The extent of cell adhesion decreases to basal level by pre-exposure to anti-uPAR84-95 Abs, or to the RI-3 peptide, blocking the uPAR84-95/FPR1 interaction. Furthermore, EOC cells exposed to RI-3 or desensitized with an excess of SRSRY, fail to adhere also to mesothelial cell monolayers, losing the ability to cross them. Finally, primary and metastatic EOC tissues express a high level of FPR1. Conclusions: Our findings identify for the first time FPR1 as a potential biomarker of aggressive EOC and suggests that inhibitors of the uPAR84-95/FPR1 crosstalk may be useful for the treatment of metastatic EOC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number459
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 8 2019


  • Adhesion
  • Formyl peptide receptor
  • Mesothelium
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Peptide
  • Urokinase receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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