Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.509, No.4, 1034-1040, 2019
FAK inhibition reduces metastasis of alpha 4 integrin-expressing melanoma to lymph nodes by targeting lymphatic VCAM-1 expression
Malignant melanoma typically metastasizes to lymph nodes (LNs) as a primary or in-transit lesion before secondary metastasis occurs, and LN biopsy is a common procedure to diagnose melanoma progression. Since cancer metastasis is a complex process where various interactions between tumor cells and the stroma play key roles in establishing metastatic lesions, the exact mechanisms underlying melanoma metastasis to LNs remains unknown. It has been known that focal adhesion kinase (FAK) activity promotes the expression of proinflammatory vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1). As VCAM-1 is a major receptor for alpha 4 integrin and plays a key role in leukocyte recruitment, we reasoned that inhibition of FAK activity may reduce VCAM-1 expression within LNs and thus reduce metastasis of alpha 4 integrin-expressing melanoma to LNs. First, we found that a pharmacological FAK inhibitor, PF-271, blocked tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)-mediated VCAM-1 expression on human dermal lymphatic endothelial cells (HDLECs). In vitro, PF-271 significantly decreased B16F10 melanoma adhesion to and transmigration through HDLEC5 compared to TNF-alpha treated cells. Furthermore, in vivo FAK inhibition by oral PF-271 administration reduced VCAM-1 expression in inguinal, cervical, and popliteal LNs compared to vehicle treated mice. Finally, in a footpad metastasis model, B16F10 melanoma cells were injected into the right footpad of C57BL/6 mice, and PF-271 (50 mg/kg, twice daily for 6 days) was orally administrated after 1 week of tumor transplantation. While untreated mice exhibited significant metastatic melanoma lesions in popliteal LNs, PF-271 treated mice showed only marginal melanoma metastasis. These results support the possibility that FAK inhibitors may be a novel preventative option in melanoma metastasis by blocking VCAM-1 expression in LNs. (C) 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.