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J Invest Dermatol. 2004 Dec;123(6):1151-61.

Overproduction of VEGF concomitantly expressed with its receptors promotes growth and survival of melanoma cells through MAPK and PI3K signaling.

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Department of Dermatology, Ciutat Sanitaria i Universitaria de Bellvitge, Barcelona, Spain.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an important mediator of tumor-associated angiogenesis, and consequently it has been associated with metastasis. We report here that the overexpression of VEGF(165) in melanoma xenografts promotes an acceleration of tumor growth and an increase in angiogenesis as well as the spontaneous metastasis formation. In addition, VEGF receptors (VEGFR)1, VEGFR2 and neurophilin-1 are expressed in A375 melanoma cells. Forced overexpression of VEGF in these cells induces cell growth and triggers survival activity in serum-starved cultures, by a mechanism dependent on the mitogen-activating protein kinase signaling pathway. Furthermore, these effects are dependent MEK 1/2 activity. Kinase domain region-specific tyrosine kinase inhibitors dramatically reduced DNA synthesis to 20% with respect to the controls, although they did not completely suppress either the p44 or p42-phosphorylated forms of extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase. These inhibitors also provoked a decrease in Akt phosphorylation. We observed a dramatic reduction in survival after treatment with phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase (PI3K)-specific inhibitor in the presence of specific tyrosinase inhibitors. We suggest that the overproduction of VEGF(165) concomitantly expressed with its receptors favors cell growth and survival of melanoma cells through MAPK and PI3K signaling pathways. These data support the involvement in melanoma growth and survival of a VEGF-dependent internal autocrine loop mechanism, at least in vitro.

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