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Neoplasia. 2009 Aug;11(8):732-42.

Platelet-derived growth factor-receptor alpha strongly inhibits melanoma growth in vitro and in vivo.

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Laboratorio Biologia Vascolare e Terapia Genica, Centro Cardiologico Monzino, IRCCS, Milano, Italy.


Cutaneous melanoma is the most aggressive skin cancer; it is highly metastatic and responds poorly to current therapies. The expression of platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGF-Rs) is reported to be reduced in metastatic melanoma compared with benign nevi or normal skin; we then hypothesized that PDGF-Ralpha may control growth of melanoma cells. We show here that melanoma cells overexpressing PDGF-Ralpha respond to serum with a significantly lower proliferation compared with that of controls. Apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, pRb dephosphorylation, and DNA synthesis inhibition were also observed in cells overexpressing PDGF-Ralpha. Proliferation was rescued by PDGF-Ralpha inhibitors, allowing to exclude nonspecific toxic effects and indicating that PDGF-Ralpha mediates autocrine antiproliferation signals in melanoma cells. Accordingly, PDGF-Ralpha was found to mediate staurosporine cytotoxicity. A protein array-based analysis of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway revealed that melanoma cells overexpressing PDGF-Ralpha show a strong reduction of c-Jun phosphorylated in serine 63 and of protein phosphatase 2A/Balpha and a marked increase of p38gamma, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 3, and signal regulatory protein alpha1 protein expression. In a mouse model of primary melanoma growth, infection with the Ad-vector overexpressing PDGF-Ralpha reached a significant 70% inhibition of primary melanoma growth (P < .001) and a similar inhibition of tumor angiogenesis. All together, these data demonstrate that PDGF-Ralpha strongly impairs melanoma growth likely through autocrine mechanisms and indicate a novel endogenous mechanism involved in melanoma control.

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