• c-Jun;
  • E-cadherin;
  • malignant melanoma;
  • post-transcriptional regulation;
  • cytoskeleton


A central event in the development of malignant melanoma is the loss of the tumor-suppressor protein E-cadherin. Here, we report that this loss is linked to the activation of the proto-oncogene c-Jun, a key player in tumorigenesis. In vivo, malignant melanomas show strong expression of the c-Jun protein in contrast to melanocytes. Interestingly, c-Jun mRNA levels did not differ in the melanoma cell lines when compared to melanocytes, suggesting that c-Jun could be regulated at the post-transcriptional level. To uncover the link between E-cadherin and c-Jun, we re-expressed E-cadherin in melanoma cells and detected decreased protein expression and activity of c-Jun. Furthermore, c-Jun accumulation is dependent on active E-cadherin-mediated cell–cell adhesion and regulated via the cytoskeleton. Additionally, we determined that, with respect to c-Jun regulation, there are two melanoma subgroups. One subgroup regulates c-Jun expression via the newly discovered E-cadherin-dependent signaling pathway, whereas the other subgroup uses the MAPKinases to regulate its expression. In summary, our data provide novel insights into the tumor-suppressor function of E-cadherin, which contributes to the suppression of c-Jun protein translation and transcriptional activity independent of MAPKinases.