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Int J Cancer. 2018 Feb 1;142(3):584-596. doi: 10.1002/ijc.31075. Epub 2017 Oct 12.

Interleukin 8 mediates bcl-xL-induced enhancement of human melanoma cell dissemination and angiogenesis in a zebrafish xenograft model.

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Department of Cell Biology and Histology, Faculty of Biology, University of Murcia, Spain.
Instituto Murciano de Investigación Biosanitaria (IMIB)-Arrixaca, Murcia, Spain.
Preclinical Models and New Therapeutic Agents Unit, Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy.
Microvascular Biology and Inflammation Unit, Molecular Medicine Institute, Biochemistry Institute, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal.


The protein bcl-xL is able to enhance the secretion of the proinflammatory chemokine interleukin 8 (CXCL8) in human melanoma lines. In this study, we investigate whether the bcl-xL/CXCL8 axis is important for promoting melanoma angiogenesis and aggressiveness in vivo, using angiogenesis and xenotransplantation assays in zebrafish embryos. When injected into wild-type embryos, bcl-xL-overexpressing melanoma cells showed enhanced dissemination and angiogenic activity compared with control cells. Human CXCL8 protein elicited a strong proangiogenic activity in zebrafish embryos and zebrafish Cxcr2 receptor was identified as the mediator of CXCL8 proangiogenic activity using a morpholino-mediated gene knockdown. However, human CXCL8 failed to induce neutrophil recruitment in contrast to its zebrafish homolog. Interestingly, the greater aggressiveness of bcl-xL-overexpressing melanoma cells was mediated by an autocrine effect of CXCL8 on its CXCR2 receptor, as confirmed by an shRNA approach. Finally, correlation studies of gene expression and survival analyses using microarray and RNA-seq public databases of human melanoma biopsies revealed that bcl-xL expression significantly correlated with the expression of CXCL8 and other markers of melanoma progression. More importantly, a high level of co-expression of bcl-xL and CXCL8 was associated with poor prognosis in melanoma patients. In conclusion, these data demonstrate the existence of an autocrine CXCL8/CXCR2 signaling pathway in the bcl-xL-induced melanoma aggressiveness, encouraging the development of novel therapeutic approaches for high bcl-xL-expressing melanoma.


CXCL8; angiogenesis; bcl-xL; melanoma; zebrafish

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