Experimental coexpression of vimentin and keratin intermediate filaments in human melanoma cells augments motility

Am J Pathol. 1996 Jan;148(1):63-9.


Intermediate filaments have been used as cell-type-specific markers in differentiation and pathology; however, recent reports have demonstrated the coexpression of vimentin (a mesenchymal marker) and keratins (epithelial markers) in numerous neoplasms, including melanoma, which has been linked to metastatic disease. To test the hypothesis that coexpression of vimentin and keratins by melanoma cells contributes to a more migratory and invasive phenotype, we co-transfected a vimentin-positive human melanoma cell line, A375P (of low invasive ability), with cDNAs for keratins 8 and 18. The resultant stable transfectants expressed vimentin- and keratin-positive intermediate filaments showed a two- to threefold increase in their invasion of basement membrane matrix and migration through gelatin in vitro. These findings were further corroborated by video cinematography. During attachment and spreading on fibronectin, the transfectants containing vimentin and keratins 8 and 18 demonstrated an increase in focal adhesions that stained positive for beta 1 integrin and phosphotyrosine, along with enhanced membrane ruffling and actin stress fiber formation. From these data, we postulate that coexpression of vimentin and keratins results in increased cytoskeletal interactions at focal contacts within extracellular matrices involving integrin cell signaling events, which contributes to a more migratory behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Movement*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Keratins / metabolism*
  • Melanoma / metabolism*
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vimentin / metabolism*


  • Vimentin
  • Keratins