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Cell Stress Chaperones. 2002 Apr;7(2):177-85.

Overexpression of Hsp27 affects the metastatic phenotype of human melanoma cells in vitro.

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Institute of Cancer Research, University of Vienna, Austria.


Overexpression of the small heat shock protein Hsp27 has been shown by us to inhibit the in vitro proliferation rate and to delay tumor development of a human melanoma cell line (A375) in nude mice. We hypothesized that Hsp27 may influence the neoplastic phenotype. In the present study Hsp27 transfectants from this cell line were analyzed for various cellular aspects associated with the metastatic process. We found that Hsp27-overexpressing clones exhibited an altered cellular morphology as compared with control transfected cells. The Hsp27-positive cells tended to develop an epithelial-like phenotype growing in clusters and were characterized by a loss of transcytoplasmic stressfibers. In parallel, Hsp27-expressing cells lost the ability to form colonies in soft agar. The invasive potential was studied in vitro by the use of a reconstituted extracellular matrix-coated filter (Matrigel). Compared with controls, Hsp27-overexpressing cells showed decreased cell invasiveness through Matrigel. A correlation between invasion and activation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) has been shown in several cell models. Secretion of MMPs (MMP-2 and MMP-9) was studied by gelatin-substrate zymogram analysis, as well as by a sensitive gelatinase activity assay. The Hsp27-transfected A375 melanoma cell line showed decreased secretion of MMP-2 and MMP-9 as compared with the control transfected cells. Integrins are adhesion receptors and function in cell invasion by mediating cell movement on matrix molecules and by regulating the expression of MMPs. Both fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis and immunofluorescence analysis revealed a loss of alpha(v)beta3 integrin in Hsp27-transfected cell colonies. Our results demonstrate that Hsp27 overexpression has a profound impact on several parameters regulating the invasive and metastatic potential of melanoma cells in vitro.

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