Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality of all gynecologic malignancies. As such, there is a need to identify molecular mechanisms that underlie tumor metastasis in ovarian cancer. Increased expression of receptor tyrosine kinase, DDR2, has been associated with worse patient survival. Identifying downstream targets of DDR2 may allow specific modulation of ovarian cancer metastatic pathways. Additionally, stromal cells play a critical role in metastasis. The crosstalk between tumor and stromal cells can lead to tumor progression. We first identified that tumor cells co-cultured with DDR2-expressing fibroblasts had lower periostin expression when compared to tumor cells co-cultured with DDR2-depleted fibroblasts. We confirmed that DDR2 regulates POSTN expression in ovarian cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). We found that mesothelial cell clearance and invasion by tumor cells were enhanced three-fold when DDR2 and POSTN-expressing CAFs were present compared to DDR2 and POSTN-depleted CAFs. Furthermore, DDR2-depleted and POSTN-overexpressing CAFs co-injected with ovarian tumor cells had increased tumor burden compared to mice injected with tumor cells and DDR2 and POSTN-depleted CAFs. Furthermore, we demonstrated that DDR2 regulates periostin expression through integrin B1 (ITGB1). Stromal DDR2 is highly correlated with stromal POSTN expression in ovarian cancer patient tumors. Thus, DDR2 expression in CAFs regulates the steps of ovarian cancer metastasis through periostin.
- ovarian cancer