Melanoma invasion - current knowledge and future directions

Pigment Cell Res. 2007 Jun;20(3):161-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0749.2007.00378.x.


The acquisition of invasive behaviour is the key transition in the progression of benign melanocyte hyperplasia to life threatening melanoma. Understanding this transition and the mechanisms of invasion are the key to understanding why malignant melanoma is such a devastating disease and will aid treatment strategies. Underlying the invasive behaviour is increased cell motility caused by changes in cytoskeletal organization and altered contacts with the extra-cellular matrix (ECM). In addition, changes in the interactions of melanoma cells with keratinocytes and fibroblasts enable them to survive and proliferate outside their normal epidermal location. Proteomic and genomic initiatives are greatly increasing our knowledge of which gene products are deregulated in invasive and metastatic melanoma; however, the next challenge is to understand how these genes promote the invasion of melanoma cells. In recent years new models have been developed that more closely recapitulate the conditions of melanoma invasion in vivo. It is hoped that these models will give us a better understanding of how the genes implicated in melanoma progression affect the motility of melanoma cells and their interactions with the ECM, stromal cells and blood vessels. This review will summarise our current understanding of melanoma invasion and focus on the new model systems that can be used to study melanoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Melanoma / metabolism
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness*
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*