Short-form thymic stromal lymphopoietin (Sftslp) is the predominant isoform expressed by gynaecologic cancers and promotes tumour growth

Loucia Kit Ying Chan, Tat San Lau, Kit Ying Chung, Chit Tam, Tak Hong Cheung, So Fan Yim, Jacqueline Ho Sze Lee, Ricky Wai Tak Leung, Jing Qin, Yvonne Yan Yan Or, Kwok Wai Lo, Joseph Kwong

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) is an epithelial cell derived cytokine belonging to the IL-7 family and a key initiator of allergic inflammation. Two main isoforms of TSLP, classified as long-(lfTSLP) and short-form (sfTSLP), have been reported in human, but their expression patterns and role(s) in cancers are not yet clear. mRNA expression was examined by isoform-specific RT-PCR and RNA in situ hybridisation. Epigenetic regulation was investigated by chromatin immunoprecipitation-PCR and bisulfite sequencing. Tumour progression was investigated by gene overexpression, cell viability assay, cancer organoid culture and transwell invasion. Signals were investigated by proteome profiler protein array and RNA-sequencing. With the use of isoform-specific primers and probes, we uncovered that only sfTSLP was expressed in the cell lines and tumour tissues of human ovarian and endometrial cancers. We also showed the epigenetic regulation of sfTSLP: sfTSLP transcription was regulated by histone acetylation at promoters in ovarian cancer cells, whereas silencing of the sfTSLP transcripts was regulated by promoter DNA methylation in endometrial cancer cells. In vitro study showed that ectopically overexpressing sfTSLP promoted tumour growth but not invasion. Human phosphokinase array application demonstrated that the sfTSLP overexpression activated phosphorylation of multiple intracellular kinases (including GSK3α/β, AMPKα1, p53, AKT1/2, ERK1/2 and Src) in ovarian cancer cells in a context-dependent manner. We further investigated the impact of sfTSLP overexpression on transcriptome by RNA-sequencing and found that EFNB2 and PBX1 were downregulated in ovarian and endometrial cancer cells, suggesting their role in sfTSLP-mediated tumour growth. In conclusion, sfTSLP is predominantly expressed in ovarian and endometrial cancers and promotes tumour growth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number980
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2021


  • Endometrial cancer
  • Epigenetic regulation
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Short isoform
  • TSLP
  • Tu-mour promotion


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