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Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2002 Oct;44(1):17-27.

Expression of multiple molecular phenotypes by aggressive melanoma tumor cells: role in vasculogenic mimicry.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, The University of Iowa, 51 Newton Road, 1-100 BSB, Iowa City, IA 52242-1109, USA.


Cutaneous melanoma has been increasing at an alarming rate over the past two decades, however, there are no acceptable histopathological markers that classify various stages of melanoma progression. Recently, the molecular analysis of cancer has contributed significantly to our understanding of the cellular and molecular underpinnings of tumor progression. The data summarized in this review describe the molecular signature of aggressive cutaneous melanoma cells as that of multiple phenotypes which may be similar to a pluripotent, embryonic-like phenotype. An example of the plasticity of this phenotype is demonstrated by the ability of aggressive melanoma cells to engage in vasculogenic mimicry and neovascularization. A review of the current data demonstrating important cellular and molecular determinants of human melanoma vasculogenic mimicry is presented. These findings should stimulate additional studies to address the biological relevance of the multiple molecular phenotypes expressed by aggressive melanoma cells which may lead to the development of new diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets for clinical intervention.

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