• Engrailed-2 (EN2) - a novel biomarker in epithelial ovarian cancer

      McGrath, S.E.; Annels, N.; Madhuri, T.K.; Tailor, A.; Butler-Manuel, S.A.; Morgan, Richard; Pandha, H.; Michael, A. (2018-10)
      Background: Epithelial ovarian cancer is a common malignancy, with no clinically approved diagnostic biomarker. Engrailed-2 (EN2) is a homeodomain-containing transcription factor, essential during embryological neural development, which is dysregulated in several cancer types. We evaluated the expression of EN2 in Epithelial ovarian cancer, and reviewed its role as a biomarker. Methods: We evaluated 8 Epithelial ovarian cancer cell lines, along with > 100 surgical specimens from the Royal Surrey County Hospital (2009–2014). In total, 108 tumours and 5 normal tissue specimens were collected. En2 mRNA was evaluated by semi-quantitative RT-PCR. Histological sub-type, and platinum-sensitive/−resistant status were compared. Protein expression was assessed in cell lines (immunofluorescence), and in > 150 tumours (immunohistochemistry). Results: En2 mRNA expression was elevated in serous ovarian tumours compared with normal ovary (p < 0.001), particularly in high-grade serous ovarian cancer (p < 0.0001) and in platinum-resistant tumours (p = 0.0232). Median Overall Survival and Progression-free Survival were reduced with high En2 expression (OS = 28 vs 42 months, p = 0.0329; PFS = 8 vs 27 months; p = 0.0004). Positive cytoplasmic EN2 staining was demonstrated in 78% of Epithelial ovarian cancers, with absence in normal ovary. EN2 positive high-grade serous ovarian cancer patients had a shorter PFS (10 vs 17.5 months; p = 0.0103). Conclusion: The EN2 transcription factor is a novel ovarian cancer biomarker. It demonstrates prognostic value, correlating with worse Overall Survival and Progression-free Survival. It is hoped that further work will validate its use as a biomarker, and provide insight into the role of EN2 in the development, progression and spread of ovarian cancer.