Get access

Growth and survival signalling in B16F10 melanoma cells in 3D culture




The two-way communication between the ECM (extracellular matrix) and the cytoplasm via the integrins has many functions in cancer cells, including the suppression of apoptosis. As cells in a 3D (three-dimensional) architecture resemble the in vivo situation more closely than do cells in more conventional 2D cultures, we have employed a substratum that prevents cell adhesion and induces cell aggregation to determine why highly metastatic B16F10 melanoma cells resist anoikis. We compared the behaviour of B16F10 cells in 2D [on tPS (tissue culture polystyrene)] and 3D culture {on polyHEMA [poly(2-hydroxyethylmethacrylate)]} configurations. For this, we analysed cell morphology, proliferation, apoptosis and the activation status of several proteins involved in cell proliferation and survival [RhoA, FAK (focal adhesion kinase), Akt, ERK1/2 (extracellular-signal-regulated kinase 1/2)]. B16F10 cells in 3D architecture were able to proliferate as cell aggregates for 3 days, after which the number of cells decreased. The normal Swiss 3T3 cells used as an anoikis-sensitive control did not proliferate on the anti-adhesive substratum. Rho A was activated in B16F10 aggregates throughout their time in culture, whereas it was not in Swiss 3T3 aggregates. An absence of apoptotic activity was correlated with the proliferation of B16F10 cells in aggregates: caspase 3 was significantly activated only after 3 days in culture on polyHEMA. FAK and Akt were transiently activated, and their inactivation was correlated with the induction of apoptosis. ERK1/2 were activated throughout the 3D culture. No survival protein was activated in Swiss 3T3 aggregates. Data obtained from cells in 3D culture suggest that B16F10 cells are resistant to anoikis through the activation of the FAK and Akt signalling pathways.