The invasive potential of human melanoma cell lines correlates with their ability to alter fibroblast gene expression in vitro and the stromal microenvironment in vivo



The tumor microenvironment is thought to play an important role in invasion and metastasis. Previously, we have shown that signaling from melanoma cells can alter the gene expression profiles of fibroblasts in vitro and in vivo. To investigate whether the capacity to signal fibroblasts and alter host gene expression profiles is correlated to the invasive potential of specific human melanoma cell lines, we assayed changes in gene expression of fibroblasts when cocultured with the human melanoma cell lines BLM, MV3, A2058, SK-mel28 and WM164. Results indicated that the gene expression of key chemokines and cytokines, such as IL-1B, IL-8, IL-6 and CCL2/MCP1, was significantly upregulated in fibroblasts cocultured with the invasive melanoma lines BLM and MV3 compared to fibroblasts cocultured with noninvasive WM164 cells. The results were verified by quantitative RT-PCR as well as by protein assay and supported by immunohistochemistry of human invasive melanoma. Furthermore, a role for fibroblast-secreted IL-1B in the invasion of melanoma was demonstrated in vitro, where siRNA silencing of IL-1B in melanoma-stimulated fibroblasts resulted in a diminution of melanoma invasion. Although CCL2/MCP1, a chemoattractant for macrophages, was shown to be upregulated in fibroblasts cocultured with metastatic melanoma cell lines, immunohistochemical analysis of human melanoma also indicated CCL2/MCP1 production associated with the melanoma. In summary, these experiments indicate that the invasiveness of melanoma can partly be correlated to its ability to stimulate host stromal fibroblasts to give rise to the secretion of chemokines that generate a microenvironment that is conductive for melanoma invasion and metastasis. © 2009 UICC