Pleiotropic function of ezrin in human metastatic melanomas

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The membrane cytoskeleton cross-linker, ezrin, has recently been depicted as a key regulator in the progression and metastasis of several pediatric tumors. Less defined appears the role of ezrin in human adult tumors, especially melanoma. We therefore addressed ezrin involvement in the metastatic phenotype of human adult metastatic melanoma cells. Our results show that cells resected from melanoma metastatic lesions of patients, display marked metastatic spreading capacity in SCID mice organs. Stable transfection of human melanoma cells with an ezrin deletion mutant comprising only 146 N-terminal aminoacids led to the abolishment of metastatic dissemination.In vitroexperiments revealed ezrin direct molecular interactions with molecules related to metastatic functions such as CD44, merlin and Lamp-1, consistent with its participation to the formation of phagocitic vacuoles, vesicular sorting and migration capacities of melanoma cells. Moreover, the ezrin fragment capable of binding to CD44 was shorter than that previously reported, and transfection with the ezrin deletion mutant abrogated plasma membrane Lamp-1 recruitment. This study highlights key involvement of ezrin in a complex machinery, which allows metastatic cancer cells to migrate, invade and survive in very unfavorable conditions. Ourin vivoandin vitrodata reveal that ezrin is the hub of the metastatic behavior also in human adult tumors. © 2009 UICC

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