Evaluation of molecular markers of mesenchymal phenotype in melanoma

Leann M. Mikesh, Manish Kumar, Gulsun Erdag, Kevin T. Hogan, Kerrington R. Molhoek, Marty W. Mayo, Craig L. Slingluff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The epithelial to mesenchymal transition is a developmental process allowing epithelial cells to dedifferentiate into cells displaying mesenchymal phenotypes. The pathological role of epithelial to mesenchymal transition has been implicated in invasion and metastasis for numerous carcinomas, yet limited data exist addressing whether mesenchymal transition (MT) occurs in malignant melanoma cells. Our group developed an in-vitro three-dimensional culture system to address MT in melanoma cells upon transforming growth factor-β/tumor necrosis factor-α treatment. Loss of E-cadherin is one of the best indicators of MT in epithelial cells. Not surprisingly, E-cadherin was expressed in only three of 12 (25%) melanoma cell lines and all three mesenchymal proteins, N-cadherin, vimentin, and fibronectin, were expressed by seven (58%) melanoma cell lines. However, after cytokine treatment, two or more mesenchymal proteins were elevated in nine (75%) melanoma cell lines. Data support the transforming growth factor-β production by melanoma cells which may induce/support MT. Evaluation of E-cadherin, N-cadherin, and Snail expression in melanoma tissue samples are consistent with an inverse coupling of E-cadherin and N-cadherin expression, however, there are also examples suggesting a more complex control of their expression. These results indicate that malignant melanoma cell lines are susceptible to MT after cytokine treatment and highlight the importance of understanding the effects of cytokines on melanoma to undergo MT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-495
Number of pages11
JournalMelanoma Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Snail expression
  • cadherin
  • epithelial to mesenchymal transition
  • fibronectin
  • melanoma
  • transforming growth factor
  • tumor necrosis factor
  • vimentin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Dermatology
  • Cancer Research


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