Dynamics of cell interactions and communications during melanoma development

G. Li, K. Satyamoorthy, M. Herlyn

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    67 Citations (Scopus)


    Melanoma development not only involves genetic and epigenetic changes that take place within the cell, but also involves processes determined collectively by micro-environmental factors, including cell-cell interactions and communications. During the transition from normal cells to benign and malignant lesions, and subsequently to metastatic cancer, stepwise changes in intercellular communications provide tumor cells with the ability to overcome cell-cell adhesion and micro-environmental controls from the host and to invade surrounding tissues and disperse to distant locations. Cadherins are major cell-cell adhesion molecules involved in the development and maintenance of skin. E-cadherin expressed in normal melanocytes mediates growth and invasion control by keratinocytes. Progressive loss of E-cadherin and gain of N-cadherin during melanoma development not only free melanoma cells from control by keratinocytes, but also provide new adhesion properties, resulting in switched partnerships with fibroblasts and vascular endothelial cells. The cadherin subtype switching also dictates gap junctional specificity in melanocytic cells during tumor development. This selective intercellular communication may contribute to the regulation of cell growth, differentiation, apoptosis, and migration of melanocytic cells in both physiologic and pathologic conditions. Abnormal up-regulation of the immunoglobin repeat-containing cell adhesion molecules Mel-CAM and L1-CAM potentiates invasion and migration of melanoma. Thus, abnormal expression of intercellular adhesion receptors and dysregulated intercellular communication underlies melanoma development and progression.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)62-70
    Number of pages9
    JournalCritical Reviews in Oral Biology and Medicine
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Dentistry(all)


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