Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Cancer Biology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Menashe Bar-Eli

Committee Member

Gary E. Gallick

Committee Member

Jeffrey E. Gershenwald

Committee Member

Pierre D. McCrea

Committee Member

Rosemarie E. Schmandt


The acquisition of the metastatic melanoma phenotype is associated with increased expression of the melanoma cell adhesion molecule MCAM/MUC18 (CD146). However, the mechanism by which MUC18 contributes to melanoma metastasis remains unclear. Herein, we stably silenced MUC18 expression utilizing lentivirus-incorporated small hairpin RNA, in two metastatic melanoma cell lines, A375SM and C8161, and conducted cDNA microarray analysis. We identified and validated that the transcriptional regulator, Inhibitor of DNA Binding-1 (Id-1), previously shown to function as an oncogene in several malignancies, was downregulated by 5.6-fold following MUC18 silencing. Additionally, we found that MUC18 regulated Id-1 expression at the transcriptional level via ATF-3. Interestingly, ATF-3 was upregulated by 6.9 fold in our cDNA microarray analysis following MUC18 silencing. ChIP analysis showed increased binding of ATF-3 to the Id-1 promoter after MUC18 silencing, while mutation of the ATF-3 binding site on the Id-1 promoter increased Id-1 promoter activity in MUC18-silenced cells. These Data suggest that MUC18 silencing promotes inhibition of Id-1 expression by increasing ATF-3 expression and binding to the Id-1 promoter. Rescue of MUC18 reverted the expression of Id-1 and ATF-3, thus validating that they are not off-target effects of MUC18. To further assess the role of Id-1 in melanoma invasion and metastasis, we overexpressed Id-1 in MUC18-silenced cells. Overexpression of Id-1 in MUC18-silenced cells resulted in increased cell invasion, as well as increased expression and activity of MMP-2. Our data further reveal that Id-1 regulates MMP-2 at the transcriptional level through Sp1 and Ets-1. This is the first report to demonstrate that MUC18 does not act exclusively in cell adherence, but is also involved in cell signaling that regulates the expression of genes, such as Id-1 and ATF-3, thus contributing to the metastatic melanoma phenotype.


MCAM/MUC18, Id-1, MMP-2, Invasion, Metastasis, Melanoma