APAF-1 plays a pivotal role in mitochondria-dependent apoptosis, binding to cytochrome c and favoring activation of caspase-9. It has been shown that epigenetic silencing of the APAF-1 gene is a common event in several metastatic melanoma cells in vitro. We determined, by Western blot, variation in the level of expression of APAF-1 in several human melanoma cell lines and, by immunohistochemistry, in a group of 106 histological samples including benign and malignant melanocytic lesions. We observed APAF-1 down-regulation or loss of expression in two metastatic melanoma cell lines, compared to primary melanoma cell lines. The immunohistochemical analysis revealed a significant difference in APAF-1 staining between nevi and melanomas. In addition, we found a significant negative correlation between APAF-1 expression level and tumor thickness and between primary melanomas and metastases. We conclude that loss of APAF-1 expression can be considered as an indicator of malignant transformation in melanoma.
- Tumor progression
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