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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 May;995:151-61.

Remodeling of the microenvironment by aggressive melanoma tumor cells.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1109, USA.


A necessity for development and tumor progression is a blood supply formed by vasculogenic and/or angiogenic events, involving the cooperative interactions of cells with their microenvironment. Based on the recent characterization of vasculogenic mimicry by aggressive melanoma cells, particularly their ability to express VE (vascular endothelial)-cadherin, TIE-1, and EphA2, current studies have focused on the molecular signals deposited by these cells as they remodel their microenvironment. The experimental approach utilizes unique three-dimensional collagen matrices preconditioned by metastatic melanoma cells, which contain laminin 5 gamma2 chain-enriched tracks with promigratory cleavage fragments produced by cooperative interactions with specific matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The results demonstrate that the collagen matrices preconditioned by the metastatic cells induce poorly aggressive melanoma cells to express, for the first time, key angiogenic/vasculogenic/matrix-remodeling genes. Treatment of aggressive melanoma cells with an MMP inhibitor resulted in the inhibition of vasculogenic mimicry-associated genes in these tumor cells and abrogation of the inductive effects of the preconditioned matrix on poorly aggressive melanoma cells. These observations illustrate the remarkable influence of the microenvironment on the phenotype of melanoma cells and may provide new perspectives on tumor cell plasticity and unique treatment strategies.

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