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J Cell Biol. 2004 Jun 21;165(6):881-91.

Melanoma chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan enhances FAK and ERK activation by distinct mechanisms.

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  • 1University of Minnesota, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, 312 Church St. SE, Room 7-124 BSBE, Minneapolis, MN 55406, USA.


Melanoma chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (MCSP) is an early cell surface melanoma progression marker implicated in stimulating tumor cell proliferation, migration, and invasion. Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) plays a pivotal role in integrating growth factor and adhesion-related signaling pathways, facilitating cell spreading and migration. Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1 and 2, implicated in tumor growth and survival, has also been linked to clinical melanoma progression. We have cloned the MCSP core protein and expressed it in the MCSP-negative melanoma cell line WM1552C. Expression of MCSP enhances integrin-mediated cell spreading, FAK phosphorylation, and activation of ERK1/2. MCSP transfectants exhibit extensive MCSP-rich microspikes on adherent cells, where it also colocalizes with alpha4 integrin. Enhanced activation of FAK and ERK1/2 by MCSP appears to involve independent mechanisms because inhibition of FAK activation had no effect on ERK1/2 phosphorylation. These results indicate that MCSP may facilitate primary melanoma progression by enhancing the activation of key signaling pathways important for tumor invasion and growth.

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