Malignant melanoma cells can differentiate spontaneously in vivo and in vitro into cells with a finite lifespan. Analysis of differentiating cells from primary melanomas in culture revealed a flat, fibroblast‐like morphology and expression of the fibroblast‐associated marker leucine aminopeptidase (LAP). Differentiation was also observed in a minor sub‐population of permanent cell lines derived from metastatic lesions. An experimental model of melanoma cell differentiation was then developed, using the pyrimidine analog bromodeoxyuridine (BUdR). BUdR‐treated cells had a flat morphology, were contact‐inhibited, had up to 20‐fold increased surface area, expressed LAP, no longer proliferated anchorage‐independently in soft agar, and 3 out of 4 cell lines were non‐tumorigenic in athymic nude mice. Our results show that models of differentiation of melanoma cells can be established that help to define pathways of differentiation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research