BACKGROUND: We previously defined 3 molecular subgroups of High Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer (HGSOC), using gene expression data from 265 FFPE samples obtained from treatment naive patients, who received platinum based treatment following surgical resection. The 3 molecular subgroups were Angio: characterised by upregulation of angiogenesis genes; Immune: characterised by upregulation of immune genes and AngioImmune: characterised by upregulation of angiogenesis and immune genes. Patients within these 3 subgroups respond differently to standard of care treatment The Immune subgroup have the best prognosis and the Angio and AngioImmune subgroups have similar worse prognosis. A weighted gene signature to identify each of the molecular subgroups was developed. This dataset was used as a reference to investigate the effect of chemotherapy on molecular subgroup designation.
METHODS: To investigate the effect of chemotherapy on predefined molecular subgroups, we analysed 35 matched pre- and post- chemotherapy samples by gene expression. The molecular subgroup assignment for each of the paired samples was determined using the gene expression signatures for each subgroup. Novel cisplatin resistant HGSOC cell lines were generated to study the mechanisms of acquired cisplatin resistance.
RESULTS: 40% of the treatment naive samples that were aligned with the AngioImmune subgroup and this increased to 67.5% post-chemotherapy. 10/15 (67%) treatment naïve tumours that were initially assigned to the good prognostic Immune molecular subgroup shifted to the bad prognostic AngioImmune molecular subgroup post chemotherapy. Hence platinum chemotherapy selects for the AngioImmune subgroup, suggesting that this subgroup represents tumours which are innately platinum resistant but also provides a mechanism of acquired resistance. Additionally we demonstrate that the AngioImmune subgroup is driven by activation of the MAPK pathway and shows that cisplatin resistant HGSOC cell lines are specifically sensitive to MEK inhibitors.
CONCLUSIONS: The MAPK pathway is a mechanism of innate and acquired platinum resistance in HGSOC. Furthermore the data suggests that original pre-treatment surgical/biopsy samples may fall within a different molecular subgroup to samples taken post-platinum therapy.
Citation Format: Aya El-Helali, Nuala McCabe, Charlie Gourley, Andrena McCavigan, Caroline O. Michie, Bethanie Price, Niamh McGivern, Michael Churchman, Aya El-Helai, Eamonn J. O'Brien, Laura Hill, Timothy S Davison, Alistair Williams, W Glenn McCluggage, Katherine E Keating, Denis P Harkin, and Richard Kennedy. IDENTIFICATION OF A MOLECULAR SUBTYPE OF HIGH GRADE SEROUS OVARIAN CANCER REPRESENTING MAPK PATHWAY ACTIVATION AND PLATINUM RESISTANCE [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 11th Biennial Ovarian Cancer Research Symposium; Sep 12-13, 2016; Seattle, WA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Clin Cancer Res 2017;23(11 Suppl):Abstract nr MIP-055.