The overexpression of the c-erbB-2 oncogene product has been reported in approximately 20–30% of human ovarian cancers and has been correlated with a poor prognosis in ovarian cancer patients. To investigate the function of p185c-erbB-2 in human ovarian cancer cells, a c-erbB-2-specific single-chain antibody (scFv-5R) was expressed in the c-erbB-2-overexpressing SK-OV-3 cell line using a retroviral expression vector. Eight individual clones expressing the single-chain antibody were isolated. These clones have a prominent retention of the cell surface p185c-erbB-2. In this study we compared the proliferation rate, the anchorage-independent growth, the secretion of matrix metalloproteases and of the urokinase-type plasminogen activator. The clones expressing the c-erbB-2 single-chain antibody, the control cells harbouring the empty vector and the parental SK-OV-3 cells they all had similar proliferation rates in the presence of 10% serum and secreted similar amounts of matrix metalloproteases and of the urokinase-type plasminogen activator. However, the expression of the c-erbB-2 oncogene product offers a strong growth advantage under serum-reduced conditions with 1% serum. In contrast to the parental SK-OV-3 and empty vector control cells, the scFv-5R-expressing clones were not able to grow anchorage-independently. These findings suggest that c-erbB-2 enhances transformation abilities of SK-OV-3 ovarian cancer cells without affecting the secretion of proteases and the proliferation of SK-OV-3 ovarian cancer cells in the presence of high concentrations of serum. © 1999 Cancer Research Campaig
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