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Paclitaxel is a standard chemotherapeutic agent for ovarian cancer. PEA-15 (phosphoprotein enriched in astrocytes-15 kDa) regulates cell proliferation, autophagy, apoptosis, and glucose metabolism and also mediates AKT-dependent chemoresistance in breast cancer. The functions of PEA-15 are tightly regulated by its phosphorylation status at Ser104 and Ser116. However, the effect of PEA-15 phosphorylation status on chemosensitivity of cancer cells remains unknown. Here, we tested the hypothesis that PEA-15 phosphorylated at both Ser104 and Ser116 (pPEA-15) sensitizes ovarian cancer cells to paclitaxel. We first found that knockdown of PEA-15 in PEA-15-high expressing HEY and OVTOKO ovarian cancer cells resulted in paclitaxel resistance, whereas re-expression of PEA-15 in these cells led to paclitaxel sensitization. We next found that SKOV3.ip1-DD cells (expressing phosphomimetic PEA-15) were more sensitive to paclitaxel than SKOV3.ip1-AA cells (expressing nonphosphorylatable PEA-15). Compared with SKOV3.ip1-vector and SKOV3.ip1-AA cells, SKOV3.ip1-DD cells displayed reduced cell viability, inhibited anchorage-independent growth, and augmented apoptosis when treated with paclitaxel. Furthermore, HEY and OVTOKO cells displayed enhanced paclitaxel sensitivity when transiently overexpressing phosphomimetic PEA-15 and reduced paclitaxel sensitivity when transiently overexpressing nonphosphorylatable PEA-15. These results indicate that pPEA-15 sensitizes ovarian cancer cells to paclitaxel. cDNA microarray analysis suggested that SCLIP (SCG10-like protein), a microtubule-destabilizing protein, is involved in pPEA-15-mediated chemosensitization. We found that reduced expression and possibly posttranslational modification of SCLIP following paclitaxel treatment impaired the microtubule-destabilizing effect of SCLIP, thereby promoting induction of mitotic arrest and apoptosis by paclitaxel. Our findings highlight the importance of pPEA-15 as a promising target for improving the efficacy of paclitaxel-based therapy in ovarian cancer.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Cancer Ther

Publication Date





1099 - 1111


Apoptosis, Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins, Cell Line, Tumor, Cell Proliferation, Drug Resistance, Neoplasm, Female, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Humans, Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins, Microtubules, Ovarian Neoplasms, Paclitaxel, Phosphoproteins, Phosphorylation, Stathmin