Background: Tyrosine phosphate is abnormally elevated in malignant melanoma, and this has been interpreted to reflect the activity of oncogenic protein tyrosine kinases. However, elevation may also arise due to decreased protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) expression. Objectives: To survey phosphatase gene expression in melanoma cell lines, a benign naevus and normal melanocytes: we searched for downregulation of phosphatase gene expression in malignant cells that may indicate a role as melanoma suppressor genes. Methods: Microarray analysis was used to compare gene expression for 133 phosphatase genes, comprising 39 PTPs, 16 dual-specificity phosphatases (DSPs), 47 serine/threonine phosphatases and 31 acid/alkaline and lipid-based phosphatases. Northern blotting analysis was used to study gene expression in human melanoma biopsies. Results: There was decreased expression of four DSP genes (including PTEN); eight receptor PTP genes were downregulated in melanoma, among which were PTP-KAPPA and PTP-PI (consistent with our previous data). In addition, PTP-RF/LAR was downregulated in 13 of 22 metastatic melanomas. Conclusions: The expression of multiple PTP receptors is decreased in melanoma; this may be a mechanism which stimulates autonomous growth in advanced melanoma.
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