Abnormalities of the transforming growth factor-beta pathway in ocular melanoma

J Pathol. 2000 Dec;192(4):511-8. doi: 10.1002/1096-9896(2000)9999:9999<::AID-PATH778>3.0.CO;2-B.


The majority of ocular melanomas occur in the uveal tract. Chemotherapy is generally ineffective and large tumours requiring enucleation have a greater than 50% mortality at 5 years. Monosomy for chromosome 3 is common in uveal melanoma and it is known that there is loss of responsiveness to transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta) in melanoma cell lines. Since the gene for TGFbeta receptor II (TGFbetaR2) is located on chromosome 3p22, this study investigates the possibility that the TGFbeta pathway, and TGFbetaR2 in particular, might be involved in the pathogenesis of this rare eye tumour. To this end, the expression of molecules in the pathway has been examined by immunocytochemistry (TGFbeta, TGFbetaR2, SMAD2, SMAD3, SMAD4, and p27), backed up by a cell culture assay of TGFbeta-mediated growth suppression, RT-PCR for SMAD4, and loss of heterozygosity (LOH) on 3p22. There was LOH at 3p22 in 6/19 tumours and loss of TGFbetaR2 expression in 10/27 tumours. Immunohistochemistry for SMADs 2, 3, and 4 showed potential loss of signal transduction in 14/27 tumours. The results indicate abnormality of the TGFbeta pathway in 61% of tumours for which unequivocal results were obtained and suggest that abrogation of control of melanocyte growth by the TGFbeta pathway may be important in the formation of uveal melanoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Loss of Heterozygosity
  • Male
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • Melanoma / metabolism*
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Middle Aged
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Uveal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Uveal Neoplasms / metabolism*


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta