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J Invest Dermatol. 1999 Dec;113(6):935-9.

Increased synthesis of hyaluronate enhances motility of human melanoma cells.

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Department of Dermatology, Angio-Aging Division, Research Center on Aging and Adaptation, Shinshu University School of Matsumoto, Japan.


Hyaluronate plays a unique role in the cancer cell microenvironment. In particular, melanoma is the tumor type in which hyaluronate and hyaluronate recognition have been most closely linked to malignancy. In this study we show that a human melanoma cell line stably transfected with hyaluronate synthase cDNA displays enhanced motility. We used a fixed erythrocyte exclusion assay to isolate subsets of the WM793 human melanoma cell line that expressed either high or low amounts of hyaluronate. A cell line with a high level of hyaluronate on its surface (WM793H) displayed significantly higher cell motility on colloidal-gold-coated coverslips than did a line with a low level (WM793L). Next, in order to directly investigate the effects of hyaluronate on melanoma cell migration, we transfected cDNA encoding mouse hyaluronate synthase HAS1 or HAS2 into the re-cloned human melanoma cell line that produced a low amount of hyaluronate (WM793L) by the lipofection method. Several clonal transfectants differentially producing hyaluronate were obtained. There was a positive correlation between total hyaluronate synthesis and formation of the pericellular hyaluronate-rich matrix. We observed an increase in the migration ability of hyaluronate cDNA (HAS1 or HAS2)-transfected cells compared with control cells on glass plates covered with colloidal gold particles. A migration-inhibition assay with anti-CD44 monoclonal antibody showed blocking of the cell motility. It is speculated that the tumor cells might migrate through a hyaluronate-rich extracellular environment when they invade nearby host tissues and that hyaluronate production by the tumor cells could increase this migration. These results suggest that hyaluronate may play a role in the aggressiveness of human melanoma cells.

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