DNA damage commonly occurs in cancer cells as a result of endogenous and tumor microenvironmental stress. In this study, we applied immunohistochemistry to study the expression of phosphorylated Chk2 (pChk2), a surrogate marker of the DNA damage response, in high grade and low grade of ovarian serous carcinoma. A phospho-specific antibody specific for threonine 68 of Chk2 was used for immunohistochemistry on a total of 292 ovarian carcinoma tissues including 250 high-grade and 42 low-grade serous carcinomas. Immunostaining intensity was correlated with clinicopathological features. We found that there was a significant correlation between pChk2 immunostaining intensity and percentage of pChk2 positive cells in tumors and demonstrated that high-grade serous carcinomas expressed an elevated level of pChk2 as compared to low-grade serous carcinomas. Normal ovarian, fallopian tube, ovarian cyst, and serous borderline tumors did not show detectable pChk2 immunoreactivity. There was no significant difference in pChk2 immunoreactivity between primary and recurrent high-grade serous carcinomas. In high-grade serous carcinomas, a significant correlation (P < 0.0001) in expression level (both in intensity and percentage) was found between pChk2 and Rsf-1 (HBXAP), a gene involved in chromatin remodeling that is amplified in high-grade serous carcinoma. Our results suggest that the DNA damage response is common in high-grade ovarian serous carcinomas, especially those with Rsf-1 overexpression, suggesting that Rsf-1 may be associated with DNA damage response in high-grade serous carcinomas.
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