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Oncogene. 2003 May 19;22(20):3130-7.

Role and regulation of the thrombin receptor (PAR-1) in human melanoma.

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Department of Cancer Biology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


To determine treatment strategies and predict the clinical outcome of patients with melanoma it is important to understand the etiology of this disease. Recently, there has been some insight into molecular basis of melanoma including identification of a few of the regulatory factors and genes involved in this disease. For instance, the transcription factor AP-2 plays a tumor suppressor-like role in melanoma progression by regulating genes involved in tumor growth and metastasis. Previously, we have shown that the progression of human melanoma to the metastatic phenotype is associated with loss of AP-2 expression and deregulation of target genes such as MUC18/MCAM, c-KIT, and MMP-2. Increasing evidence demonstrates that the thrombin receptor (protease-activated receptor-1, PAR-1) plays a major role in tumor invasion and contributes to the metastatic phenotype of human melanoma. This review focuses on the role of the thrombin receptor in melanoma and its regulation by AP-2. We show that loss of AP-2 expression in metastatic melanoma cells correlates with overexpression of the thrombin receptor. Our analysis of AP-2/Sp1 complexes within the regulatory region of the thrombin receptor demonstrates that AP-2 binds the proximal 3' region of the promoter and diminishes PAR-1 expression. Levels of AP-2 and Sp1 proteins in a panel of melanoma cell lines demonstrated a marked decrease in the ratio of AP-2/Sp1, a decrease that correlated with overexpression of PAR-1 in metastatic melanoma cells. We propose that loss of AP-2 results in increased expression of the thrombin receptor, which subsequently contributes to the metastatic phenotype of melanoma by upregulating the expression of adhesion molecules, proteases, and angiogenic molecules.

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