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Melanoma Research:
doi: 10.1097/CMR.0000000000000021
ORIGINAL ARTICLES: Basic research

Interleukin-6-induced Twist and N-cadherin enhance melanoma cell metastasis

Na, Yi-Ranga; Lee, Jin-Subb; Lee, Seok-Jongb; Seok, Seung-Hyeoka

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Abstract

Melanoma patients frequently have elevated serum levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), which is correlated with a poor prognosis. IL-6 activates STAT3 phosphorylation, inducing the transcription of genes that regulate tumor cell proliferation and antiapoptosis. In addition, recent evidence suggests that IL-6 induces the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and enhances the invasiveness of tumor cells of epithelial origin. However, it is unknown whether IL-6 affects mesenchymal tumor cells. In this study, we examined the effects of IL-6 on melanoma cells and found that IL-6 can enhance their metastatic potential by regulating the expression of Twist and N-cadherin. First, we confirmed that human melanoma tissues express IL-6 (especially at the lesion site), the IL-6 receptor, N-cadherin, and nuclear Twist. Next, we found that IL-6 induces STAT3 phosphorylation in WM-266-4 human melanoma cells, resulting in transient upregulation of Twist, which is a key regulator of metastasis. Importantly, the expression of N-cadherin, a protein downstream of Twist, was also increased on the cell surface after treatment with IL-6. These cells showed enhanced invasiveness, assessed using an invasion assay, and formed more metastatic nodules in the lungs of NOD-SCID mice after an intravenous injection. Importantly, melanoma cells with knocked-down N-cadherin formed less lung nodules compared with control in the NOD-SCID mouse model. Our data suggest that increased serum IL-6 in cancer patients could increase the invasiveness of melanoma cells and accelerate metastasis. Blocking IL-6 in the melanoma microenvironment may therefore inhibit disease progression.

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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