Protease-activated receptor-1 signaling plays a major role in melanoma growth and metastasis

Gabriel Jose Villares, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Overexpression of the thrombin receptor (Protease-Activated-Receptor-1), PAR-1, in cell lines and tissue specimens correlates with the metastatic potential of human melanoma. Utilizing lentiviral shRNA to stably silence PAR-1 in metastatic melanoma cell lines results in decreased tumor growth and lung metastasis in vivo. Since the use of viral technology is not ideal for clinical therapies, neutral liposomes (DOPC) were utilized as a delivery vehicle for PAR-1 siRNA. Our data suggest that PAR-1 siRNA-DOPC treatment by systemic delivery significantly decreases tumor growth and lung metastasis in nude mice. Concomitant decreases in angiogenic and invasive factors (IL-8, VEGF, MMP-2) were observed in PAR-1 siRNA-DOPC-treated mice. Utilizing a cDNA microarray platform, several novel PAR-1 downstream target genes were identified, including Connexin 43 (Cx-43) and Maspin. Cx-43, known to be involved in tumor cell diapedesis and attachment to endothelial cells, is decreased after PAR-1 silencing. Furthermore, the Cx-43 promoter activity was significantly inhibited in PAR-1-silenced cells suggesting transcriptional regulation of Cx-43 by PAR-1. ChIP analysis revealed a reduction in SP-1 and AP-1 binding to the Cx-43 promoter. Moreover, melanoma cell attachment to HUVEC was significantly decreased in PAR-1-silenced cells as well as in Cx-43 shRNA transduced cells. As both SP-1 and AP-1 transcription factors act as positive regulators of Cx-43, our data provide a novel mechanism for the regulation of Cx-43 expression by PAR-1. Maspin, a serine protease inhibitor with tumor-suppressor function, was found to be upregulated after PAR-1 silencing. Our results indicate that PAR-1 transcriptionally regulates Maspin, as the promoter activity was significantly increased after PAR-1 silencing. ChIP analysis revealed that silencing PAR-1 increased binding of Ets and c-Jun to the Maspin promoter. As Maspin was recently found to be a tumor-suppressor in melanoma by reducing the invasive capacity of melanoma cells, invasion assays revealed a decrease in invasion after PAR-1 silencing and in cells transduced with a Maspin expression vector. We propose that PAR-1 is key to the progression and metastasis of melanoma in part by regulating the expression of Cx-43 and Maspin. Taken together, we propose that PAR-1 is an attractive target for the treatment of melanoma.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Medicine

Recommended Citation

Villares, Gabriel Jose, "Protease-activated receptor-1 signaling plays a major role in melanoma growth and metastasis" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3353996.