Phenotypic and genotypic analyses of cutaneous melanoma have identified the endothelin B receptor (ETBR) as tumor progression marker, thus representing a potential therapeutic target. Here, we demonstrate that activation of ETBR by endothelin-1 (ET-1) and ET-3 leads to loss of expression of the cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin and associated catenin proteins and gain of N-cadherin expression. Exposure of melanoma cells to ET-1 leads to a 60% inhibition in intercellular communication by inducing phosphorylation of gap junctional protein connexin 43. Additionally, activation of the ETBR pathway increases αvβ3 and α2β1 integrin expression and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9, membrane type-1-MMP activation, and tissue inhibitor MMP-2 secretion. The ETBR pathway results into the downstream activation of focal adhesion kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 signaling pathways, which lead to enhanced cell proliferation, adhesion, migration, and MMP-dependent invasion. The small molecule A-192621, an orally bioavailable nonpeptide ETBR antagonist, significantly inhibits melanoma growth in nude mice. These findings demonstrate that ET-1 and ET-3 through ETBR activation trigger signaling pathways involved in events associated with disruption of normal host-tumor interactions and progression of cutaneous melanoma. Pharmacological interruption of ETBR signaling may represent a novel therapeutic strategy in the treatment of this malignancy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research