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Ovarian Cancer May Mimic Fallopian Tube Formation

cells that form fallopian tubes, the secretory cells. In addition, they discovered that the protein is not expressed in the normal ovarian surface epithelium.

Bowen proposes that ovarian cancer begins by using PAX8 to direct an adult stem cell population found on the ovarian surface to proliferate and ultimately form ovarian cancer. When this gene is turned on in an embryo, it leads to the development of fallopian tubes. When the gene is expressed in healthy adult ovarian cells that migrate into the body of the ovary, it leads to the development of ovarian inclusion cysts. Normally, the growth of cysts is kept in check by the cells’ feedback mechanisms that turn off cell growth. But in cancer, when these feedback mechanisms are mutated, the cysts grow out of control until they metastasize.

"It’s a way of molecularly characterizing tumors that may lead to designing specific therapies based on the molecular profile,” said Bowen. “Biology is basically an information processing system to generate end products, and there are a lot of decisions that have to be made by the regulatory genes, like paired box gene 8, before the end products can be made.

Bowen’s next steps are to find out why paired box gene 8 gets turned on and to discover its targets in order to find out of it turns on another decision-making gene or an endpoint gene.

"That’s the daunting task of cancer biologists,” he said. “Now that we've sequenced the human genome, we have to make sense out of the thousands of genes that are expressed in cancer at the same time.”

This research was supported by grants from the Georgia Cancer Coalition and a gift in remembrance of Josephine Crawford Robinson for support of the Ovarian Cancer Institute Laboratory.

The Ovarian Cancer Institute (OCI) was founded by gynecologic oncologist Benedict Benigno in 1999. The OCI’s laboratory moved to Georgia Tech in 2004 and currently has researchers located at E
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