SOX2 expression associates with stem cell state in human ovarian carcinoma

Petra M. Bareiss, Anna Paczulla, Hui Wang, Rebekka Schairer, Stefan Wiehr, Ursula Kohlhofer, Oliver C. Rothfuss, Anna Fischer, Sven Perner, Annette Staebler, Diethelm Wallwiener, Falko Fend, Tanja Fehm, Bernd Pichler, Lothar Kanz, Leticia Quintanilla-Martinez, Klaus Schulze-Osthoff, Frank Essmann, Claudia Lengerke*

*Corresponding author for this work
91 Citations (Scopus)


The SRY-related HMG-box family of transcription factors member SOX2 regulates stemness and pluripotency in embryonic stem cells and plays important roles during early embryogenesis. More recently, SOX2 expression was documented in several tumor types including ovarian carcinoma, suggesting an involvement of SOX2 in regulation of cancer stem cells (CSC). Intriguingly, however, studies exploring the predictive value of SOX2 protein expression with respect to histopathologic and clinical parameters report contradictory results in individual tumors, indicating that SOX2 may play tumor-specific roles. In this report, we analyze the functional relevance of SOX2 expression in human ovarian carcinoma. We report that in human serous ovarian carcinoma (SOC) cells, SOX2 expression increases the expression of CSC markers, the potential to form tumor spheres, and the in vivo tumor-initiating capacity, while leaving cellular proliferation unaltered. Moreover, SOX2-expressing cells display enhanced apoptosis resistance in response to conventional chemotherapies and TRAIL. Hence, our data show that SOX2 associates with stem cell state in ovarian carcinoma and induction of SOX2 imposes CSC properties on SOC cells. We propose the existence of SOX2-expressing ovarian CSCs as a mechanism of tumor aggressiveness and therapy resistance in human SOC.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCancer Research
Issue number17
Pages (from-to)5544-5555
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2013


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