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  1. High-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) constitutes the majority of all ovarian cancer cases and has staggering rates of both refractory and recurrent disease. While most patients respond to the initial treatment with paclitaxel and platinum-based drugs, up to 25% do not, and of the remaining that do, 75% experience disease recurrence within the subsequent two years. Intrinsic resistance in refractory cases is driven by environmental stressors like tumor hypoxia which alter the tumor microenvironment to promote cancer progression and resistance to anticancer drugs. Recurrent disease describes the acquisition of chemoresistance whereby cancer cells survive the initial exposure to chemotherapy and develop adaptations to enhance their chances of surviving subsequent treatments. Of the environmental stressors cancer cells endure, exposure to hypoxia has been identified as a potent trigger and priming agent for the development of chemoresistance. Both in the presence of the stress of hypoxia or the therapeutic stress of chemotherapy, cancer cells manage to cope and develop adaptations which prime populations to survive in future stress. One adaptation is the modification in the secretome. Chemoresistance is associated with translational reprogramming for increased protein synthesis, ribosome biogenesis, and vesicle trafficking. This leads to increased production of soluble proteins and extracellular vesicles (EVs) involved in autocrine and paracrine signaling processes. Numerous studies have demonstrated that these factors are largely altered between the secretomes of chemosensitive and chemoresistant patients. Such factors include cytokines, growth factors, EVs, and EV-encapsulated microRNAs (miRNAs), which serve to induce invasive molecular, biophysical, and chemoresistant phenotypes in neighboring normal and cancer cells. This review examines the modifications in the secretome of distinct chemoresistant ovarian cancer cell populations and specific secreted factors, which may serve as candidate biomarkers for aggressive and chemoresistant cancers. 
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  2. Age is a leading risk factor for developing breast cancer. This may be in part to the time required for acquiring sufficient cancer mutations; however, stromal cells that accumulate in tissues and undergo senescence eventually develop a senescence-associated secretory phenotype that alters the microenvironment to promote cancer. Our focus is on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) – stromal cells recruited to tumors due to their natural tropism for inflammatory tissues; MSCs have been shown to enhance the metastatic potential of tumor cells through direct interactions or paracrine signaling within the tumor. In the tumor, MSCs can differentiate into carcinoma-associated fibroblasts that play a central role in tumor growth and matrix remodeling. We recently investigated the molecular and mechanical differences in pre- and post- senescent MSCs and how their interactions with MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells contribute to malignancy. Our data show post-senescent MSCs are larger and less motile, with more homogeneous mechanical properties than pre-senescent MSCs. In-depth omics analysis revealed differentially regulated genes and peptides including factors related to inflammatory cytokines, cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix, and cytoskeletal regulation. A 3D co-culture model was used to assess the effects of pre- and post- senescent MSCs on collagen matrix remodeling. Although post-senescent MSCs were far less motile than pre-senescent MSCs and less contractile with the matrix, they profoundly altered matrix protein deposition and crosslinking, which resulted in local matrix stiffening effects. Post-senescent MSCs also induced an invasive breast cancer cell phenotype, characterized by increased proliferation and invasion of breast cancer cells. This invasive breast cancer cell behavior was further amplified when MDA-MB-231 was co-cultured with a mixture of pre- and post- senescent MSCs; this result was attributed to matrix remodeling and soluble factor secretion effects of post-senescent MSCs, which enhanced the migration of pre-senescent MSCs allowing them to form tracks in the collagen network for cancer cells to follow. Finally, molecular inhibitors targeting actomyosin contractility and adhesion were used to alter MSC interactions with breast cancer cells. Actin depolymerizing agent and focal adhesion kinase inhibitor were most efficient and completely able to block the effects of post-senescent MSCs on MDA-MB-231 invasion in collagen gels. This comprehensive approach can be used to identify molecular pathways regulating heterotypic interactions of post-senescent MSCs with other cells in the tumor. Furthermore, the local matrix stiffening effect of post-senescent MSCs may play a critical role in breast cancer progression. 
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