p75 receptor-mediated neurotrophism: A new mechanism of melanoma cell survival and invasion

John Leonard Herrmann, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Trophism as a "clonal dominance" support mechanism for tumor cells is an unexplored area of tumor progression. This report presents evidence that the human melanoma low-affinity neurotrophin receptor (p75) can signal independently of its high-affinity tyrosine kinase counterparts, the TRK family of kinases. Signaling may be accomplished by a p75-associated purine-analog-sensitive kinase and results in enhanced invasion into a reconstituted basement membrane with a corresponding stimulation of matrix metalloproteinase-2 expression. Additionally, a "stress culture" survival assay was developed to mimic the growth limiting conditions encountered by melanoma cells in a rapidly growing primary tumor or metastatic deposit prior to neoangiogenesis. Under these conditions, p75, promotes the survival of high p75 expressing brain-colonizing melanoma cells. Extensive 70W melanoma cell-cell contact, which downregulates p75, immediately precedes the induction of cell death associated with diminished production of two key cell survival factors, bcl-2 and the p85 subunit of phosphoinositol-3-kinase, and an elevation in apoptosis promoting intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROSs). Since one function of bcl-2 may be to control the generation of ROSs via the antioxidant pathway, these cells may receive a apoptosis-prompting "double hit". 70W melanoma cell death occurred by an apoptotic mechanism displaying classical morphological changes including plasma membrane blebbing, loss of microvilli and redistribution of ribosomes. 70W apoptosis could be pharmacologically triggered following anti-p75 monoclonal antibody-mediated clustering of p75 receptors. 70W cells fluorescently sorted for high-p75 expression (p75$\sp{\rm H}$ cells) exhibited an augmented survival potential and a predilection to sort with the S + G2/M growth phase, relative to their low p75 expressing, p75$\sp{\rm L}$ counterparts. Apoptosis is significantly delayed by p75$\sp{\rm H}$ cells, whereas p75$\sp{\rm L}$ cells are exquisitely prone to initiate apoptosis. Importantly, the p75$\sp{\rm L}$ cells that survive apoptosis, highly re-expressed p75 and were remarkably responsive to exogenous NGF. These are the first data to implicate p75-mediated neurotrophism as an invasion and survival support mechanism employed by brain-metastatic cells. In particular, these results may have implications in little understood phenomena of tumor progression, such as the emergence of "clonal dominance" and tumor dormancy.

Subject Area

Cellular biology|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Herrmann, John Leonard, "p75 receptor-mediated neurotrophism: A new mechanism of melanoma cell survival and invasion" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9600557.