To sustain their proliferation, cancer cells overcome negative-acting signals that restrain their growth and promote senescence and cell death. Renalase (RNLS) is a secreted flavoprotein that functions as a survival factor after ischemic and toxic injury, signaling through the plasma calcium channel PMCA4b to activate the PI3K/AKT and MAPK pathways. We show that RNLS expression is increased markedly in primary melanomas and CD163(+) tumor-associated macrophages (TAM). In clinical specimens, RNLS expression in the tumor correlated inversely with disease-specific survival, suggesting a pathogenic role for RNLS. Attenuation of RNLS by RNAi, blocking antibodies, or an RNLS-derived inhibitory peptide decreased melanoma cell survival, and anti-RNLS therapy blocked tumor growth in vivo in murine xenograft assays. Mechanistic investigations showed that increased apoptosis in tumor cells was temporally related to p38 MAPK-mediated Bax activation and that increased cell growth arrest was associated with elevated expression of the cell-cycle inhibitor p21. Overall, our results established a role for the secreted flavoprotein RNLS in promoting melanoma cell growth and CD163(+) TAM in the tumor microenvironment, with potential therapeutic implications for the management of melanoma. Cancer Res; 76(13); 3884-94. ©2016 AACR.
©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.