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Growth factor independence and growth regulatory pathways in human melanoma development


This review concentrates on growth autonomy of tumor cells in relation to tumor progression. Human malignant melanoma serves as an example for progressive growth factor independence at subsequent stages of tumor progression. Mechanisms by which malignant cells acquire growth factor independence are discussed. In melanoma, deregulation of growth regulatory pathways has been described on four levels: 1) aberrant production of autocrine growth factors that substitute for exogenous growth factors (basic fibroblast growth factor [bFGF]); 2) alterations in the response to negative autocrine growth factors (interleukin [IL]-6 and transforming growth factor [TGF]-β); 3) overexpression of epidermal growth factor receptors (EGF-R); and 4) alterations of cellular protooncogenes involved in signal transduction (RAS, MYB) and growth suppression (p53). In addition to bFGF and IL-6, multiple other growth factor genes are activated in malignant melanoma cells but not normal melanocytes. These include both chains of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), TGF-α, IL-1, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. Of these, PDGF-B has been investigated in more detail. Melanoma-derived PDGF clearly does not act in a direct autocrine mode, but has important paracrine effects on normal tissue constituents, notably fibroblasts and endothelial cells, that are essential for tumor developmentin vivo. It is speculated that other melanoma-derived growth factors with as yet undefined functions similarly exert such paracrine or ‘indirect’ autocrine effects that cannot be sufficiently addressed in studies on cultured cells.

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Correspondence to Ulrich Rodeck.

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Rodeck, U. Growth factor independence and growth regulatory pathways in human melanoma development. Cancer Metast Rev 12, 219–226 (1993).

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Key words

  • melanoma
  • cell lines
  • tumor progression
  • growth factors
  • autocrine
  • paracrine