Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of gynecologic cancer–related deaths. The propensity for metastasis within the peritoneal cavity is a driving factor for the poor outcomes associated with this disease, but there is currently no effective therapy targeting metastasis. In this study, we investigate the contribution of stromal cells to ovarian cancer metastasis and identify normal stromal cell expression of the collagen receptor, discoidin domain receptor 2 (DDR2), that acts to facilitate ovarian cancer metastasis. In vivo, global genetic inactivation of Ddr2 impairs the ability of Ddr2-expressing syngeneic ovarian cancer cells to spread throughout the peritoneal cavity. Specifically, DDR2 expression in mesothelial cells lining the peritoneal cavity facilitates tumor cell attachment and clearance. Subsequently, omentum fibroblast expression of DDR2 promotes tumor cell invasion. Mechanistically, we find DDR2-expressing fibroblasts are more energetically active, such that DDR2 regulates glycolysis through AKT/SNAI1 leading to suppressed fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase and increased hexokinase activity, a key glycolytic enzyme. Upon inhibition of DDR2, we find decreased protein synthesis and secretion. Consequently, when DDR2 is inhibited, there is reduction in secreted extracellular matrix proteins important for metastasis. Specifically, we find that fibroblast DDR2 inhibition leads to decreased secretion of the collagen crosslinker, LOXL2. Adding back LOXL2 to DDR2 deficient fibroblasts rescues the ability of tumor cells to invade. Overall, our results suggest that stromal cell expression of DDR2 is an important mediator of ovarian cancer metastasis.
DDR2 is highly expressed by stromal cells in ovarian cancer that can mediate metastasis and is a potential therapeutic target in ovarian cancer.