Objective. Ovarian cancers are highly heterogeneous and while chemotherapy is the preferred treatment many patients are intrinsically resistant or quickly develop resistance. Furthermore, all tumors that recur ultimately become resistant. Recent evidence suggests that epigenetic deregulation may be a key factor in the onset and maintenance of chemoresistance. We set out to identify epigenetically silenced genes that affect chemoresistance. Methods. The epigenomes of a total of 45 ovarian samples were analyzed to identify epigenetically altered genes that segregate with platinum response, and further filtered with expression data to identify genes that were suppressed. A tissue culture carboplatin resistance screen was utilized to functionally validate this set of candidate platinum resistance genes. Results. Our screen correctly identified 19 genes that when suppressed altered the chemoresistance of the cells in culture. Of the genes identified in the screen we further characterized one gene, docking protein 2 (DOK2), an adapter protein downstream of tyrosine kinase, to determine if we could elucidate the mechanism by which it increased resistance. The loss of DOK2 decreased the level of apoptosis in response to carboplatin. Furthermore, in cells with reduced DOK2, the level of anoikis was decreased. Conclusions. We have developed a screening methodology that analyzes the epigenome and informatically identifies candidate genes followed by in vitro culture screening of the candidate genes. To validate our screening methodology we further characterized one candidate gene, DOK2, and showed that loss of DOK2 induces chemotherapy resistance by decreasing the level of apoptosis in response to treatment. (C) 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School of Medicine