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Int J Cancer. 1999 Jun 11;81(6):951-5.

Influence of MUC18/MCAM/CD146 expression on human melanoma growth and metastasis in SCID mice.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Vienna, Austria.


The cell surface glycoprotein MUC18MCAM/CD146 was originally defined as a marker of melanoma progression and has been suspected to be directly linked to the metastatic process of this malignancy. In order to address this question, 2 MCAM negative human melanoma cell lines, SK-2 and XP44RO(Mel), were transfected with MCAM-encoding cDNA. Surface MCAM expression on SK-2 and XP44RO(Mel) transfectants was similar to that observed in naturally occurring MCAM positive human melanoma cells and transfectants demonstrated MCAM-dependent increase in homotypic adhesion in vitro. The growth behavior of 7 MCAM transfectants and their respective vector controls was evaluated in SCID mice. Tumor size at 4-5 weeks after s.c. implantation was highly variable, but did not correlate with MCAM expression. Despite massive primary tumor formation at the injection site, no spontaneous metastasis was observed with any of the investigated MCAM transfectants. The influence of MCAM expression on lung metastases formation in an experimental metastasis assay was system dependent, converting only XP44RO(Mel) transfectants into metastatic cells, although increased homotypic adhesion, leading to formation of tumor cell clusters, was observed with transfectants of both cell lines in vitro. Our findings indicate that MCAM expression of human melanoma cells has an influence on later stages of the metastatic process only, namely, extravasation and establishment of new foci of growth, but is per se not sufficient for this process.

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