Cancer and Metastasis Reviews

, Volume 32, Issue 3–4, pp 535–551 | Cite as

The role of tumour-associated MUC1 in epithelial ovarian cancer metastasis and progression

  • Junli Deng
  • Li Wang
  • Hongmin Chen
  • Lei Li
  • Yiming Ma
  • Jie Ni
  • Yong Li


The most common ovarian cancer is epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) characterised by few early symptoms, widespread peritoneal dissemination and ascites at advanced stages that result in poor prognosis. Despite the recent progress in its management, including surgery and chemotherapy, EOC remains the most lethal gynaecological malignancy in women. Due to the limitations of current therapeutic approaches, many patients die of secondary disease (metastasis). MUC1 is associated with cellular transformation and tumorigenicity and is considered as an attractive therapeutic target for cancer therapy owning to its over-expression in most adenocarcinomas including EOC. Tumour-associated MUC1 plays an important role in EOC metastasis and progression. In neoplastic tissues, MUC1 is underglycosylated and reveals epitopes that are masked in the normal cells. This feature makes it possible to target tumour-associated MUC1 with antibodies, toxins or radionuclides or use a vaccine targeting tumour-associated MUC1 antigen. The shed tumour-associated MUC1 in blood can be used as a diagnostic biomarker for EOC detection and monitoring. Our recent results have shown that over-expression of MUC1 plays a very important role in EOC progression and MUC1 is an ideal target for targeted therapy to control metastatic and recurrent EOC. This review will summarize some important new findings supporting the role of MUC1 in EOC metastasis and progression and focus on the MUC1-based targeted therapy for control of metastatic and recurrent EOC.


MUC1 Epithelial ovarian cancer Tumour-associated antigen Metastasis Targeted cancer therapy 





Androgen receptor


Complete clinical remission


Cancer stem cell


Cytoplasm tail


Cytotoxic T lymphocytes


Dendritic cells




Epidermal growth factor receptor


Enzyme-linked immunoassay


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay


Epithelial–mesenchymal transition


Epithelial ovarian cancer


Enhanced permeability and retention


Endoplasmic reticulum


Extracellular signal-regulated kinases


Human antimouse antibody


Human milk fat globule


Intercellular adhesion molecule-1




Linear energy transfer


Monoclonal antibody


Mitogen-activated protein kinase


Minimal residual disease


Mucin 1


MUC1 C-terminal subunit




Natural killer


Oestrogen receptor α


Overall survival


Ovarian surface epithelium


Protein MUC1 inhibitory peptide


Quantum dot-mucin1 aptamer-doxorubicin




Receptor tyrosine kinases


Sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin superfamily lectins


Study of MAb Radioimmunotherapy


Tumour-associated antigens






Tandem repeats


Variable number of tandem repeats



Our EOC projects were supported in part by an International Collaborative Grant from Henan Health Board, China and a National Health & Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) Career Development Fellowship (YL), Australia. The authors thank Associate Professor Peter Graham and Professor John Kearsley (Cancer Care Centre, St George Hospital, Sydney) for their ongoing support and Dr Jingli Hao and Ms Julia Beretov (Cancer Care Centre, St George Hospital, Sydney) for their excellent technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Henan Cancer Hospital, The Affiliated Cancer Hospital of Zhengzhou UniversityZhengzhouChina
  2. 2.Cancer Care CentreSt George HospitalSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of New South WalesKensingtonAustralia

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