Cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) is implicated in ovarian cancer. However, patterns of COX expression and function have been unclear and controversial. In this report, patterns of COX-1 and COX-2 gene expression were obtained from RNA-seq data through The Cancer Genome Atlas. Our analysis revealed markedly higher COX-1 mRNA expression than COX-2 in high-grade serous ovarian cancers (HGSOC) and higher COX-1 expression in HGSOC tumors than 10 other tumor types. High expression of COX-1 in HGSOC tumors was confirmed in an independent tissue microarray. In contrast, lower or similar expression of COX-1 compared to COX-2 was observed in endometrioid, mucinous and clear cell tumors. Stable COX-1 knockdown in HGSOC-representative OVCAR-3 ovarian cancer cells reduced gene expression in multiple pro-tumorigenic pathways. Functional cell viability, clonogenicity, and migration/invasion assays were consistent with transcriptomic changes. These effects were reversed by stable over-expression of COX-1 in SKOV-3 cells. Our results demonstrate a distinct pattern of COX-1 over-expression in HGSOC tumors and strong association of COX-1 with multiple pro-tumorigenic pathways in ovarian cancer cells. These findings provide additional insight into the role of COX-1 in human ovarian cancer and support further development of methods to selectively target COX-1 in the management of HGSOC tumors.
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