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Clin Exp Metastasis. 2002;19(5):427-36.

Involvement of tumor cell integrin alpha v beta 3 in hematogenous metastasis of human melanoma cells.

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Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, Scripps Research Institute, Mail MEM 175, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Early metastasis is the primary cause of death in melanoma patients. The adhesion receptor integrin alpha v beta 3 contributes to tumor cell functions that are potentially involved in melanoma growth and metastasis. We tested whether integrin alpha v beta 3 supports metastasis of human melanoma cells when injected into the bloodstream of immune deficient mice. Comparing variants of the same melanoma cell type that expressed either alpha v beta 3, alpha IIb beta 3 or no beta 3 integrin, we found that only alpha v beta 3 strongly supported metastasis. Inhibition of tumor cell alpha v beta 3 function reduced melanoma metastasis significantly and prolonged animal survival. To understand mechanisms that allow alpha v beta 3, but not alpha IIb beta 3 to support melanoma metastasis, we analyzed proteolytic and migratory activities of the melanoma cell variants. Melanoma cells expressing alpha v beta 3, but not those expressing alpha IIb beta 3 or no beta 3 integrin, produced the active form of metalloproteinase MMP-2 and expressed elevated mRNA levels of MT1-MMP and TIMP-2. This indicates an association between alpha v beta 3 expression and protease processing. Furthermore, alpha v beta 3 expression was required for efficient melanoma cell migration toward the matrix proteins fibronectin and vitronectin. The results suggest that expression of integrin alpha v beta 3 promotes the metastatic phenotype in human melanoma by supporting specific adhesive, invasive and migratory properties of the tumor cells and that the related integrin alpha IIb beta 3 cannot substitute for alpha v beta 3 in this respect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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