Ovarian cancer is one of the most deadly gynecological malignancies and inclined to recurrence and drug resistance. Previous studies showed that the tumorigenesis of ovarian cancers and their major histotypes are associated with genomic instability caused by defined sets of pathogenic mutations. In contrast, the mechanism that influences the development of drug resistance and disease recurrence is not well elucidated. Solid tumors are prone to chromosomal instability (CIN) and micronuclei formation (MN). Although MN is traditionally regarded as the outcome of genomic instability, recent investigation on its origin and final consequences reveal that the abnormal DNA metabolism in MN is a driver force for some types of catastrophic genomic rearrangements, accelerating dramatic genetic variation of cancer cells.
We used Indirect Immunofluorescent staining to visualize micronuclei and activation of DNA repair factors in ovarian cancer cell lines and biopsies.
We show that ovarian cancer cells are disposed to form micronuclei upon genotoxic insults. Double strand DNA breaks (DSBs)-triggered insurgence of micronuclei is associated with unrepaired chromosomes passing through mitosis. According to their morphology and DNA staining, micronuclei compartments are divided into early and late stages that can be further characterized by differential staining of γH2AX and 53BP1. We also show that MN compartments do not halt controlled DNA metabolism as sequestered nuclear repair factors are enriched at DNA breaks in MN compartments and efficiently process DNA ends to generate single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) structures. Interestingly, unknown factors are required for DNA end processing in MN in addition to the nuclear resection machinery. Finally, these hallmarks of micronuclei evolution depicted in cell culture were recapitulated in different stages of ovarian cancer biopsies.
In aggregate, our findings demonstrate that ovarian cancer cells are inclined to form micronuclei that undergo robust DNA metabolism and generate ssDNA structures, potentially destabilizing genomic structures and triggering genetic variation.