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Human cutaneous melanomas lacking MITF and melanocyte differentiation antigens express a functional Axl receptor kinase.

Authors
  • Sensi, Marialuisa
  • Catani, Mara
  • Castellano, Giancarlo
  • Nicolini, Gabriella
  • Alciato, Federica
  • Tragni, Gabrina
  • De Santis, Giuseppina
  • Bersani, Ilaria
  • Avanzi, Giancarlo
  • Tomassetti, Antonella
  • Canevari, Silvana
  • Anichini, Andrea
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Investigative Dermatology
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2011
Volume
131
Issue
12
Pages
2448–2457
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1038/jid.2011.218
PMID: 21796150
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Axl, a member of the TAM (Tyro3, Axl, Mer) family of receptor tyrosine kinases, displays an increasingly important role in carcinogenesis. Analysis of 58 cutaneous melanoma lines indicated that Axl was expressed in 38% of them, with significant overrepresentation in NRAS- compared with BRAF-mutated tumors. Axl activation could be induced by autocrine production of its ligand, Gas6, in a significant fraction of Axl-positive tumors. Pearson's correlation analysis on expression data from five data sets of melanoma lines identified several transcripts correlating positively or negatively with Axl. By functionally grouping genes, those inversely correlated were involved in melanocyte development and pigmentation, whereas those positively correlated were involved in motility, invasion, and microenvironment interactions. Accordingly, Axl-positive melanomas did not express microphthalmia transcription factor (MITF) and melanocyte differentiation antigens (MDAs) such as MART-1 and gp100 and possessed a greater in vitro invasive potential compared with Axl-negative ones. Motility, invasivity, and ability to heal a wound or to migrate across an endothelial barrier were inhibited in vitro by Axl knockdown. Pharmacological inhibition of Axl using the selective inhibitor R428 had comparable effects in reducing migration and invasion. These results suggest that targeted inhibition of Axl signaling in the subset of melanomas lacking MITF and MDAs may represent a novel therapeutic strategy.

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