Expression of macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1 (MIC-1), a member of the transforming growth factor-β family, normally increases during inflammation or organ injury. MIC-1 is also expressed at higher levels in melanomas; however, its role in tumorigenesis is unknown. This report identifies a novel function for MIC-1 in cancer. MIC-1 was overexpressed in ∼67% of advanced melanomas, accompanied by fivefold to six-fold higher levels of secreted protein in serum of melanoma patients compared with normal individuals. Constitutively active mutant V600EB-Raf in melanoma regulated downstream MIC-1 expression. Indeed, small-interfering RNA-mediated targeting of MIC-1 or V600EB-Raf reduced expression and secretion by three-fold to fivefold. This decrease in MIC-1 levels reduced melanoma tumorigenesis by approximately threefold, but did not alter cultured cell growth, suggesting a unique function other than growth control. Instead, inhibition of MIC-1 was found to mechanistically retard melanoma tumor vascular development, subsequently affecting tumor cell proliferation and apoptosis. This role in melanoma angiogenesis was confirmed by comparing MIC-1 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) function in chick chorioallantoic membrane and matrigel plug assays. Similar to VEGF in melanomas, MIC-1 stimulated directional vessel development, acting as a potent angiogenic factor. Thus, MIC-1 is secreted from melanoma cells together with VEGF to promote vascular development mediated by V600EB-Raf signaling.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine