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Malignant melanoma (MM) is the most aggressive skin cancer and the most frequent skin disorder in Caucasians. MM is associated with aggressive and progressive disease states, leading to major cancer-related morbidity and mortality. Recent investigations identify a new non-angiogenesis-dependent pathway vasculogenic mimicry (VM), which is considered a cancer hallmark that can independently facilitate tumor neovascularization by the formation of fluid-conducting and vascular endothelial cells. MM cells undergoing VM can dedifferentiate into numerous cellular phenotypes and acquire endothelial-like features, resulting in the formation of the de novo matrix-rich vascular-like network, such as plasma and red blood cells. The co-generation of endothelial cells, channels, laminar structures, and heparin sulfate proteoglycans are the main pathophysiological characteristics of VM in human melanoma patients. In highly aggressive melanoma cells downregulation of vascular endothelial cadherin and upregulation of ECM components promote the perfusion of the VM pathway. We investigated whether mda-9/syntenin, a pro-metastatic gene, affects VM in MM. The expression of mda-9/syntenin was modulated using gain-of-function and loss-of-function strategies to determine its potential role in VM. Downregulation of mda-9/syntenin in aggressive melanoma cells decreases VM, while over expressing mda-9/syntenin in immortalized melanoma cells increases VM. These findings shed light on a novel role and molecular mechanism of action of mda-9/syntenin in VM, which may contribute significantly to the metastatic phenotype of these aggressive cancers.

Publication Date



Vasculogenic Mimicry, MDA-9, Melanoma


Cancer Biology | Molecular Genetics

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dr. Paul Fisher

Is Part Of

VCU Graduate Research Posters

Vasculogenic Mimicry: Role of melanoma differentiation associated gene-9/syntenin