Platelet-derived growth factor-C promotes human melanoma aggressiveness through activation of neuropilin-1

Federica Ruffini, Lauretta Levati, Grazia Graziani, Simona Caporali, Maria Grazia Atzori, Stefania D'Atri, Pedro M. Lacal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite recent progress in advanced melanoma therapy, identification of signalling pathways involved in melanoma switch from proliferative to invasive states is still crucial to uncover new therapeutic targets for improving the outcome of metastatic disease. Neuropilin-1 (NRP-1), a co-receptor for vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) tyrosine kinase receptors (VEGFRs), has been suggested to play a relevant role in melanoma progression. NRP-1 can be activated by VEGF-A also in the absence of VEGFRs, triggering specific signal transduction pathways (e.g. p130Cas phosphorylation). Since melanoma cells co-expressing high levels of NRP-1 and platelet derived growth factor-C (PDGF-C) show a highly invasive behaviour and PDGF-C shares homology with VEGF-A, in this study we have investigated whether PDGF-C directly interacts with NRP-1 and promotes melanoma aggressiveness. Results demonstrate that PDGF-C specifically binds in vitro to NRP-1. In melanoma cells expressing NRP-1 but lacking PDGFRa, PDGF-C stimulates extra-cellular matrix (ECM) invasion and induces p130Cas phosphorylation. Blockade of PDGF-C function by neutralizing antibodies or reduction of its secretion by specific siRNA inhibit ECM invasion and vasculogenic mimicry. Moreover, PDGF-C silencing significantly down-modulates the expression of Snail, a transcription factor involved in tumour invasiveness that is highly expressed in NRP-1 positive melanoma cells. In conclusion, our results demonstrate for the first time a direct activation of NRP-1 by PDGF-C and strongly suggest that autocrine and/ or paracrine stimulation of NRP-1 by PDGF-C might contribute to the acquisition of a metastatic phenotype by melanoma cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66833-66848
Number of pages16
Issue number40
Publication statusPublished - Jun 27 2017


  • Melanoma
  • Metastatic phenotype
  • Neuropilin-1
  • PDGF-C
  • Snail

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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