The functional properties of the melanoma-associated antigens detected by monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) AMF-6 and AMF-7 were investigated. These MAbs were selected previously because of their capacity to block the anti-melanoma reactivity of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte clones AMF-6 and AMF-7 detect a melanoma-associated proteoglycan (MW > 450–250 kDa) and a molecular complex, which under reducing conditions consists of 4 compounds of 120, 95, 29 and 25 kDa respectively. AMF-6 reacted strongly with all 30 cultured melanomas and all 41 melanomas in frozen tissue sections. Significant cross-reactivity was only observed with nevi and perineurium, whereas normal skin melanocytes were negative. AMF-7 reacted with all 25 cultured melanomas and all 34 melanomas in frozen sections. AMF-7 cross-reacted with a proportion of nevi and endothelial cells from small vessels. The antigen detected by AMF-6 and AMF-7 could not be modulated by retinoic acid or recombinant 7-IFN, which induced or enhanced the expression of HLA-DR, HLA-DQ and Class-I MHC antigens. In addition, the antigens were not readily modulated when cells were incubated in excess amounts of AMF-6 and AMF-7. Interestingly, the antigen detected by AMF-7 was strongly associated with the adhesion and cytoplasmic spreading of melanoma cells to plastic surfaces and monolayers of vascular endothelial cells. AMF-6 did not block the adhesion of melanoma cells but delayed cytoplasmic spreading. Both AMF-6 and AMF-7 blocked fibronectin-induced chemotaxic motility and chemokinesis of melanoma cells. In addition to their membrane localization, the antigens detected by AMF-6 and AMF-7 were also abundant in extracellular adhesion plaques deposited by cultured melanoma cells.
Our results indicate that the high-MW melanomaassociated proteoglycan and the antigen detected by AMF-7 are associated with adhesion and/or cytoplasmic spreading and motility of human melanoma cells, suggesting that these antigens are associated with the (hematogenic) dissemination of human melanoma. This is supported by the finding that AMF-7 stained primary tumors heterogeneously, whereas metastases were homogeneously stained.