Melanoma cell-cell interactions are mediated through heterophilic Mel- CAM/ligand adhesion

Ie Ming Shih, David Speicher, Mei Yu Hsu, Elliot Levine, Meenhard Herlyn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mel-cell adhesion molecule (CAM), also known as MUC18 and CD146, is a novel member of the immunoglobulin supergene family. Mel-CAM was first identified as an integral membrane glycoprotein in human melanoma and is also abundantly expressed by endothelial cells of various origins. In a previous study (I. M. Shill et al., Cancer Res., 54: 2514-2520, 1994), we showed that Mel-CAM is a cell-cell adhesion molecule with a possible role in melanoma invasion and metastasis. Here, we define the molecular mechanism responsible for cell-cell adhesion of Mel-CAM and demonstrate its role in melanoma- endothelial cell interactions. Most of human melanoma cells, including Mel- CAM-negative SBcl-2 cells, adhered to nitrocellulose-immobilized Mel-CAM produced by baculovirus recombinants. This adhesion can be blocked by full- length Mel-CAM or polyclonal antiserum against Mel-CAM. Adhesion is not affected by the presence of EDTA, truncated Mel-CAM extracellular domain, or heparan sulfate proteoglycan. In cell aggregation assays, Mel-CAM-negative SBcl-2 cells cluster with U937TM cells (U937 transfected with Mel-CAM cDNA) but not with control nontransfectants, suggesting that SBcl-2 cells express the ligand for Mel-CAM. SBcl-2 cells also form heterotypic aggregates with Mel-CAM-positive human endothelial cells but not with Mel-CAM-negative but ligand-positive smooth muscle cells. Taken together, our results show that Mel-CAM mediates cell-cell adhesion through heterophilic adhesion to an as yet unidentified ligand present on melanoma but not on endothelial cells. Thus, melanoma-endothelial interactions during metastasis may occur through this novel mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3835-3840
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Research
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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