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, 4 (3), 791-7

Overexpression of Lerk-5/Eplg5 Messenger RNA: A Novel Marker for Increased Tumorigenicity and Metastatic Potential in Human Malignant Melanomas

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  • PMID: 9533549

Overexpression of Lerk-5/Eplg5 Messenger RNA: A Novel Marker for Increased Tumorigenicity and Metastatic Potential in Human Malignant Melanomas

T Vogt et al. Clin Cancer Res.

Abstract

The Lerks, ligands of eph-related receptor tyrosine kinases, are a rapidly expanding family of genes thought to play an important role in the development and oncogenesis of various tissues. However, very little experimental evidence supports this hypothesis. Using RNA fingerprinting, we detected increased expression of Lerk-5 mRNA in human melanocytes as a response to the tumor-promoting drug 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate, which suggests a possible role of the Lerks in melanoma tumorigenesis and progression. Therefore, we studied Lerk-5 mRNA expression in various melanoma cell lines and tissues of melanocytic tumors by semiquantitative reverse transcription-PCR. Modest expression of Lerk-5 mRNA was found in two melanoma cell lines derived from early primary tumors (WM35 and WM1645B); two metastatic cell lines tested showed a 3.9-fold increased transcript abundance when compared to the primary cell lines (RPMI-7951 and SK-Mel5). Progeny of a melanoma cell line with very low Lerk-5 mRNA abundance (WM35) showed a 5-fold increase in Lerk-5 mRNA expression when it was selected for higher tumorigenicity and multicytokine resistance by passaging in nude mice or repeated high-dose UVB irradiation. Consistent with these experimental data, we found high levels of Lerk-5 mRNA expression in advanced primary malignant melanomas and metastases (n = 22) but significantly lower or undetectable mRNA expression in benign melanocytic nevi (n = 9; P < 0.001). We conclude that increased Lerk-5 expression possibly reflects or induces an increased potential of growth, tumorigenicity, and metastatic abilities in human melanomas. This makes the yet to be elucidated eph-related receptor tyrosine kinase/Lerk signaling system a potential new source for molecular markers as well as a target for new therapies.

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