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Oncogene. 2012 Jan 19;31(3):306-21. doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.244. Epub 2011 Jul 4.

Recognition of CD146 as an ERM-binding protein offers novel mechanisms for melanoma cell migration.

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National Laboratory of Biomacromolecules, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.


Tumor cell migration is a well-orchestrated multistep process that drives cancer development and metastasis. Previous data indicated that CD146 expression correlates with malignant progression and metastatic potential of human melanoma cells. However, the exact molecular mechanism of how CD146 promotes melanoma cell migration still remains poorly understood. Here, we report that CD146 physically interacts with actin-linking ezrin-radixin-moesin (ERM) proteins and recruits ERM proteins to cell protrusions, promoting the formation and elongation of microvilli. Moreover, CD146-promoted melanoma cell migration is linked to RhoA activation and ERM phosphorylation. CD146 recruits Rho guanine nucleotide dissociation inhibitory factors 1 (RhoGDI1) through ERM proteins and thus sequesters RhoGDI1 from RhoA, which leads to upregulated RhoA activity and increased melanoma cell motility. CD146-activated RhoA also promotes further ERM phosphorylation and activation through Rho-phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate-5-kinase-phosphatidylinositol 4,5-biphosphate pathway, which reinforces CD146/ERM association. Thus, our results provide a mechanistic basis to understand the role of CD146 in regulating human melanoma cell motility.

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