The aberrant expression of human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER-2) has been detected in ovarian cancer. However, the role of HER-2 in the development of ovarian cancer has not been sufficiently elucidated. The objective of this study was to determine the role of HER-2 in the apoptosis and metastasis of SKOV-3 ovarian cancer cells. SKOV-3 cells were transfected with three double-stranded small interfering RNA (siRNA) molecules that target HER-2. Various sequences were synthesized by T7 transcription in vitro to select the most effective HER-2-silencing siRNA. SKOV-3 cells were examined for growth inhibition using the MTT proliferation assay and apoptosis was assessed using flow cytometry and TUNEL assay. The Matrigel basement memebrane matrix was used to assess invasion and chemotactic mobility, as a model of tumor cell metastasis. Western blot analysis was used to detect the expression of matrix metallopeptidase-9 (MMP-9), E-cadherin, N-cadherin and vimentin. siRNA interference in HER-2 resulted in decreased cell proliferation and invasion and increased apoptosis. Western blot analysis demonstrated a marked increase in E-cadherin and MMP-9 and a reduction in N-cadherin and vimentin protein levels in the SKOV-3 cells. The suppression of HER-2 expression resulted in apoptosis and the inhibition of metastasis of SKOV-3 cells. Therefore, the overexpression of the HER-2 gene can enhance the metastatic potential of SKOV-3 cells by increasing the protein levels of MMP-9. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition may be involved in the HER-2 siRNA-induced invasion and migration of SKOV-3 cells. Taken together, these results suggest that HER-2 functions as an oncogene and may thus be an attractive therapeutic target in SKOV-3 ovarian cancer cells.
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
- Human epidermal growth factor receptor-2
- Matrix metallopeptidase-9
- Ovarian carcinoma