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Logo of jbcThe Journal of Biological Chemistry
J Biol Chem. 2015 February 6; 290(6): 3333–3348.
Published online 2014 December 10. doi:  10.1074/jbc.M114.606913
PMCID: PMC4319005

This article has been retractedRetraction in: J Biol Chem. 2015 October 23; 290(43): 25847    See also: PMC Retraction Policy

MDA-9/Syntenin Is Essential for Factor VIIa-induced Signaling, Migration, and Metastasis in Melanoma Cells*


Melanoma differentiation associated gene-9 (MDA-9), also known as syntenin, is a novel gene that positively regulates cancer cell motility, invasion, and metastasis through distinct biochemical and signaling pathways, but how MDA-9/syntenin is regulated in response to signals with the extracellular environment and promotes tumor progression is unclear. We now demonstrate that MDA-9/syntenin is dramatically up-regulated by a combination of rFVIIa and factor F(X) in malignant melanoma. Induction of MDA-9/syntenin in melanoma was found to occur in a thrombin-independent signaling pathway and involves the PAR-1/c-Src/Rho GTPases Rac1 and Cdc42/c-Jun N-terminal kinase axis resulting in the activation of paxillin, NF-κB, and matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2). MDA-9/syntenin physically interacts with c-Src through its PDZ binding motif following stimulation of melanoma cells with rFVIIa and FX. We also document that induction of this signaling pathway is required for TF·FVIIa·Xa-induced cell migration, invasion, and metastasis by melanoma cells. The present finding uncovers a novel role of MDA-9/syntenin as an important TF·FVIIa·Xa/PAR-1-regulated gene that initiates a signaling circuit essential for cell motility and invasion of metastatic melanoma. In these contexts, targeting TF·FVIIa·Xa and its relevant downstream targets such as MDA-9/syntenin, may represent a novel therapeutic strategy to control the evolution of neoplastic cells.

Keywords: Adaptor Protein, Cell Invasion, Cell Migration, Melanoma, PDZ Domain, Tissue Factor


Melanoma differentiation associated gene-9 (MDA-9),2 also called syntenin, is a significant member of an expanding family of scaffolding PDZ domain-containing proteins, identified by a subtraction hybridization approach (1, 2). MDA-9/syntenin contains a tandem repeat of PDZ domains that plays a central role in signaling pathways by organizing networks of receptors and in targeting selected cellular proteins to multiprotein complexes (2,4). MDA-9/syntenin is up-regulated in a large spectrum of human malignancies, including melanoma (4,7). We previously documented that overexpressed MDA-9/syntenin acts through the Src pathway and initiates a signaling cascade that leads to activation of transcription factor NF-κB and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-2), which in turn promotes melanoma cell invasion/migration, and tumor cell metastasis in vivo (6, 8,10). However, it is unclear precisely how the change in extracellular environment influences MDA-9/syntenin gene expression that culminates in such a phenotype (11).

It is now widely recognized that components of the blood cogulation cascade contribute to cancer development and progression (12). Tissue factor (TF) is a transmembrane cellular receptor for coagulation factor VIIa (FVIIa) that orchestrates the assembly of FVIIa with substrate X, forming a ternary complex in which product Xa is generated (13). The resulting TF·FVIIa·Xa efficiently activate a unique family of G protein-coupled receptors known as protease-activated receptors (PARs), in particular PAR-1 and PAR-2, thereby initiating the formation of a blot clot (14). Besides its well documented role in hemostasis, TF is a promising metastasis-promoting gene that regulates multiple facets of tumor biology, including inflammation, cellular signaling, angiogenesis, tumor migration, and metastasis (15). Similar to MDA-9/syntenin, TF is consistently overexpressed in several invasive tumors (16,18) and is responsible for generation of active coagulant protease Xa (19). A number of gain- and loss-of-function studies have shown that genetic modulation of TF promotes tumor cell invasion/migration and metastasis in vivo (20,22). Current studies indicate that the ternary TF·FVIIa·Xa complex, efficiently signals through PAR-1 or PAR-2 in a FXa-dependent manner (23, 24) and cross-talks with several important cellular signaling pathways, including MAPK pathway, Src family tyrosine kinases, and NFκB members (25, 26). Considering these many provocative findings, we have presently investigated the possible role of TF·FVIIa and the induced signaling pathways in regulation of MDA-9/syntenin expression.

We presently uncover a novel role of MDA-9/syntenin as an important TF·FVIIa·Xa-regulated gene that can initiate through PAR-1 a signaling circuit essential for cell motility, invasion, and metastasis of melanoma cells. These intriguing observations suggest that induction of MDA-9/syntenin could represent a key molecular event linking hemostasis and tumor progression. In these contexts, inhibition of TF·FVIIa·Xa and its relevant downstream targets such as MDA-9/syntenin, may be useful for managing thrombotic complications associated with malignancy but also for preventing tumor growth and dissemination.



Neutralizing anti-human tissue factor, anti-MDA-9, anti-HA tag antibody, anti-PAR-1 and anti-PAR-2, anti-Src, anti-p38, anti-MMP-2, anti-poly(A) polymerase (PAP) antibodies, and tissue factor, PAR-1, PAR-2, and PAP shRNAs lentiviral particles were purchased from Santa Cruz Biotechnology (Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Santa Cruz, CA), anti-Rac1 and anti-Cdc42 (BD Biosciences Pharmingen, Franklin Lake, NJ), anti-paxillin Ser(P)178 (BIOSOURCE International, Camarillo, CA). rFVIIa (NovoSeven) and FX were purchased from Novo Nordisk (Bagsværd, Denmark) and Hematologic Technologies (Essex Junctions, VT), respectively. FVIIa blocked in the active site with phenylalanyl-phenylalanyl-arginyl chloromethyl ketone (FFR-FVIIa/rFVIIai) was kindly provided by Dr. Lars C. Petersen (Novo Nordisk). Recombinant human TF (innovin) was obtained from Dade Behring (Deerfield, IL). Rivaroxaban was obtained from Bayer Healthcare (Leverkusen, Germany).

Cells, Transfection and Treatments

A primary normal human melanocytes (PromoCell, Heidelberg, Germany) were cultured according to the manufacturer's instructions. The poorly metastatic human melanoma cell line M4Beu and highly metastatic variants T1P26 and 7GP have been described (1). Nonmetastatic radial growth phase primary melanoma cell line WM35 was purchased from Coriell Cell Repositories (Camden, NJ), and metastatic melanoma cell line c8161 was kindly provided by Dr. Mary Hendrix (Children's Memorial Research Center, Chicago, IL). Mycoplasma testing was carried out regularly using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based methodology. The full-length human TF cDNA in pcDNA3.1 Hygro vector and the plasmid pcDNA HA-FAK were kindly provided by Lars C. Petersen (Novo Nordisk) and Kenneth Yamada (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD), respectively. Standard methods were used to generate stable M4Beu cell lines expressing TF. Transient transfections of melanoma cells with HA-FAK were performed using Lipofectamine reagent as described (10). Because FVII is equally present in plasma and serum (27) all of our studies were performed in cells grown in serum-free media to eliminate the unpredictable effect of factors present in the serum on the cellular responses of cell lines. When indicated, cells were incubated with various inhibitors before stimulation with agonists. Flow cytometry analysis was performed on a BD Biosciences FACSort flow cytometer.

Virus Construction and Infectivity Assays

Construction and characterization of Ad.MDA-9/AS (Ad expressing an antisense construct of MDA-9/syntenin), a dominant-negative (DN) kinase-deficient mutant p38 MAPK, c-Jun NH2-kinase (JNK), and mt32IκBα-superrepressor (Ad.IκBα-mt32) adenoviruses were prepared as described (6, 8). Recombinant adenovirus expressing a DN mutant of c-Src kinase (K295R-kinase dead) was a generous gift from R. Baron (University School of Dentistry, Indianapolis, IN). Ad.DN·MEK1, Rac1, and CDC42 were from Cell Biolabs (San Diego, CA). Cells (2 × 105) were infected either with the indicated adenovirus (6), or the lentiviral particles shRNAs for 2 h in DMEM according to the manufacturer's instructions (Santa Cruz Biotechnology). A stable melanoma cell line T1P26 with tissue factor silencing with shRNAs lentivirus expressing was generated according to the manufacturer's instruction (Santa Cruz). Luciferase assays were performed as described (8). Forty-eight to 72 h post-transduction, cells were serum-starved and stimulated with the indicated agonists.

Reverse Transcription-PCR and Nuclear Run-on Assays

Reverse transcription-PCR was performed as described (8). Two micrograms of total RNA isolated with the Qiagen RNeasy mini kit (Courtaboeuf, France) were used for reverse transcription-PCR using Superscript II reverse transcriptase (Invitrogen):MMP-2 sense, 5′-GTGCTGAAGGACACACTAAAGAAGA-3′; MMP-2 antisense, 5′-TTGCCATCCTTCTCAAAGTTGTAGG-3′.

Nuclear Run-on Assays

Nuclear run-on assays were performed as described (28). The in vitro elongation reaction was initiated with the addition of 0.25 mmol/liter each of ATP, GTP, CTP, and UTP for 25 min at 30 °C. After incubation with RNase-free DNase, RNA was extracted and dissolved in water. cDNA was synthesized with the SuperScript III reverse transcriptase and amplified with Platinum Taq DNA polymerase (Invitrogen) using MDA-9/syntenin sense, 5′-GCTTGAACTGTCGCCTTAAC-3′, and MDA-9/syntenin antisense, 5′-GACCATCCCAAAGTAGCTAG-3′ as primers.

Protein Binding Assay

The full-length cDNA of MDA-9/syntenin and ΔPDZ(1 + 2) (12) were inserted into pGEX-2T vector. The soluble glutathione S-transferase (GST) fusion proteins GST-MDA-9/syntenin and GST-ΔPDZ(1 + 2) were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified by glutathione-Sepharose chromatography as described (29). For the GST pull-down assay, 60–100 μg of GST-MDA-9/syntenin, GST-ΔPDZ(1 + 2) or GST protein alone was incubated with glutathione-Sepharose 4B at 4 °C for 2 h and then incubated with lysates for 4 h. The eluted proteins were subjected to Western blotting with the indicated antibodies. Active (GTP-bound) forms of RhoA, Rac1, or Cdc42 were captured by pulldown assay and quantified by Western blotting using anti-Rac and anti-Cdc42 antibodies (30).

Immunoprecipitation and Western Blotting Analyses

Lysates of infected cells were prepared and equal amounts of proteins were electrophoresed, transferred, and probed with the indicated antibodies. Co-mmunoprecipitations were performed with the indicated antibodies or control IgG coupled to protein G-agarose (9).

Zymography and ELISA

The activity of MMP-2 was determined by a QuickZyme activity assay kit (Quickzyme Biosciences, Netherlands). Briefly, after infection with the indicated virus, the cells were treated with agonists and medium was replaced with serum-free MEM. Sixteen hours later, the conditioned medium was collected, and MMP-2 activity in the supernatant was analyzed according to the manufacturer's instructions. The ELISA for MMP-2 were conducted with commercially available ELISA kits (R&D Systems, Minneapolis, MN).

FXa Generation Assay

FXa generation was quantified by reference to a standard curve constructed with recombinant human TF (31). FXa in the supernatant was determined by addition of 25 mm of the chromogenic substrate PNAPEP25 and color development was measured at 405 nm on a microplate reader.

Cell Proliferation Assay

Measurement of cell proliferation based upon the reduction of the tetrazolium salt 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (Sigma) was used to assess cell viability. Briefly, cells were left untreated or infected with 50 pfu/cell of Ad.null or Ad.MDA-9/AS. 48 hours later, serum-starved cells were seeded in 96-well tissue culture plates (1.5 × 103 cells/well) and treated with rFVIIa (10 nm) and FX (150 nm) for 60 min. At the indicated time points, the medium was removed, and fresh medium containing 0.5 mg/ml of 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide was added to each well. The cells were incubated at 37 °C for 4 h and then an equal volume of solubilization solution (0.01 n HCl in 10% SDS) was added to each well and mixed thoroughly. The optical density from the plates was read on a THERMO max microplate reader at 540 nm. All experiments were performed at least three times using quadruplicate samples. Data are presented as mean ± S.E.

Cell Migration, Invasion, and Metastasis Assays

Cell invasion was determined as described (10). Conditioned medium from NIH3T3 fibroblasts were added to the lower well in the presence of FVIIa + FX and/or other agonists. For the migration assay, the lower wells were incubated with serum-free medium containing FVIIa + FX and/or other agonists, and cell migration was followed over 18 h at 37 °C (6). Both assays were performed in the presence of recombinant hirudin (100 nm) to eliminate any effects of thrombin. The experimental metastasis assay was performed as described (8, 9). Eight animals were used for each time point. Three weeks later, lung invasion was evaluated by counting pulmonary nodules under a dissecting microscope.


High Constitutive TF Expression Is Observed in Human Melanoma Cells Overexpressing MDA-9/Syntenin

An anti-TF, monoclonal antibody (TF9–10H10) showed that normal human melanocytes, a nonmetastatic radial growth phase primary melanoma cell line, WM35, and a weak metastatic human melanoma cell line, M4Beu, expressing low levels of MDA-9/syntenin, contained also TF at very low levels (Fig. 1A and Table 1). In contrast, the metastatic melanoma cells, T1P26, 7GP, and c8161 (expressing high levels of MDA-9/syntenin) showed a robust increase in TF protein expression compared with normal melanocytes, WM35 or M4Beu cells (Fig. 1A and Table 1). Western blot analysis confirmed that TF is up-regulated in more aggressive melanoma cell lines (Fig. 1B) and exhibited a >12-fold higher level of TF procoagulant activity when compared with normal melanocytes or poorly aggressive cell lines (Fig. 1C). In total, these findings suggest that TF expressed on these metastatic cells is functionally active and its expression correlates with the expression levels of MDA-9/syntenin and the metastatic potential of melanoma cells.

Induction of MDA-9/syntenin by rFVIIa and FX in human melanoma cells. A, surface expression of TF by flow cytometry analysis. Normal human epidermal melanocytes (NHEM) and human melanoma cell lines derived from tumors at different stages of progression ...
Surface expression of TF by flow cytometry analysis

Recombinant FVIIa and Xa Induces MDA-9/Syntenin Expression in Human Melanoma Cells

To test the hypothesis that FVIIa binding to TF in melanoma cells may regulate the expression of endogenous MDA-9/syntenin, serum-starved metastatic cell lines, T1P26, 7GP, and c8161 were treated with rFVIIa for 60 min. As shown in Fig. 1D expression of MDA-9/syntenin was dose-dependently up-regulated by the addition of rFVIIa, which induces a very slight increase with 10 nm rFVIIa and a maximal response at 50 to 100 nm. In vivo, factor X zymogen binds to the TF·FVIIa complex (13), we determine whether rFVIIa was used at physiological plasma levels and combined with FX regulate MDA-9/syntenin expression. As anticipated, treatment of serum-starved metastatic cells with the combination of increasing concentrations of rFVIIa (0–10 nm) and 150 nm FX induces a significant dose-dependent increase of MDA-9/syntenin producing a signaling response comparable with that observed with 50 nm rFVIIa (Fig. 1E). Time course experiments showed that the induction of MDA-9/syntenin was already observed as early as 30 min after initiation of the treatment and reached its maximum after 1 h compared with control cells (Fig. 1F). As expected, addition of rFVIIa (10 nm) and FX (150 nm) to NHEM, or WM35 and M4Beu melanoma cells do not induce expression of MDA-9/syntenin in these cells (data not shown). We then generated a stable M4Beu cell line overexpressing TF (M4Beu/TF). M4Beu/TF cells were serum starved, and then treated with a combination of rFVIIa (0–10 nm) and FX (150 nm) for 60 min. As shown in Fig. 1G, expression of MDA-9/syntenin was dose-dependently up-regulated following addition of rFVIIa and FX. These results suggest that at levels of rFVIIa that approach physiological concentrations, the ternary complex, TF·FVIIa·Xa, is a more potent inducer of MDA-9/syntenin expression than the binary complex in our melanocyte/melanoma model.

Inhibition of TF Signaling Prevents MDA-9/Syntenin Expression in Human Melanoma Cells

Active site-inactivated recombinant factor VIIa (rFVIIai) binds to TF but lacks catalytic activity; as such, it competes for TF with the physiologically occurring form of factor VIIa and is not capable of converting FX to its activated forms (32). We then investigated whether rFVIIai could compete with rFVIIa for MDA-9/syntenin. As shown in Fig. 2A, inhibition of rFVIIa·Xa-induced MDA-9/syntenin expression in serum-starved metastatic cell lines T1P26, 7GP, and c8161 was dose-dependent and reached a maximum level of inhibition (~90–95% inhibition) with 100 nm rFVIIai compared with rFVIIa + FX-treated cells. The level of MDA-9/syntenin protein in rFVIIa + FX-stimulated melanoma cells was also inhibited by active site-directed factor Xa inhibitor (FXai), rivaroxaban (2 μm), but not by hirudin (100 nm), a specific thrombin inhibitor (Fig. 2B). Additionally, after treatment of melanoma cells with anti-TF neutralizing antibody, a significant inhibition of rFVIIa·Xa-induced MDA-9/syntenin expression was observed compared with control IgG-treated cells (Fig. 2C). Furthermore, when TF shRNA lentiviral particles (LV-TF)-infected melanoma cells were exposed to rFVIIa + FX, a substantial decrease of MDA-9/syntenin expression was evident at a multiplicity of infection of LV-TF as low as 1 and was maximal (~90–95% reduction) at doses of 20 m.o.i. when compared with a nonrelevant lentiviral control shRNA (LV-CTR) (Fig. 2D). In total, these findings employing rFVIIai, FXai, anti-TF antibody that block FX activation, and genetic approaches to block TF support the hypothesis that up-regulation of MDA-9/syntenin expression by tumor cells occurs through the TF·FVIIa·Xa pathway in malignant melanoma cells.

Blockage of TF, Xa activity, PAR-1, or PAP prevents MDA-9/syntenin expression in human melanoma cells. Serum-starved normal human epidermal melanocytes (NHEM) or melanoma cell lines T1P26, 7GP, and c8161: A, either untreated (UNR) or treated for 60 min ...

FVIIa·Xa-induced MDA-9/Syntenin Expression Signals through PAR-1 in Human Melanoma Cells

Because the ternary complex TF·FVIIa·Xa efficiently activates both PAR-1 and PAR-2 in a FXa-dependent manner (23, 24), we first measured using flow cytometry expression levels of PAR-1 and PAR-2 in melanoma cells. All metastatic cell lines, T1P26, 7GP, and c8161, express high levels of PAR-1 and moderate levels of PAR-2 on their surface (Fig. 2E and Table 2). Human melanocytes do not express PAR-1 and PAR-2 (Fig. 2E and Table 2). These receptors were functionally active because both PAR-1 and PAR-2 peptide agonists increased intracellular Ca2+ (data not shown).

Surface expression of PAR-1 and PAR-2 by flow cytometry analysis

We next determined the relative importance of the individual PARs in mediating MDA-9/syntenin expression. rFVIIa + FX-induced MDA-9/syntenin expression was significantly decreased on infection of serum-starved metastatic cells, with PAR-1 shRNA lentiviral particles (LV-PAR-1, 20 m.o.i.) but not by LV-PAR-2 in comparison to cells infected with LV-CTR (Fig. 2F). The failure of hirudin to inhibit the TF·FVIIa·Xa-induced MDA-9/syntenin expression argues against thrombin as an intermediate on Xa signaling through PAR-1 (Fig. 2F). In total, these findings employing genetic approaches to block PARs support the hypothesis that activation of PAR-1 is required for a TF·FVIIa·Xa-mediated increase in MDA-9/syntenin in malignant melanoma cells.

Factor VIIa and FX Increase MDA-9 mRNA Stability in Human Melanoma Cells

We next analyzed the molecular mechanisms by which rFVIIa and FX induce endogeneous MDA-9/syntenin expression in melanoma cells. rFVIIa + FX did not augment the promoter activity in melanoma cell lines beyond the basal activity and nuclear run-on assays substantiated the results obtained by promoter analysis (data not shown). Because FVIIa bound to TF up-regulates poly(A) polymerase (PAP), a known enzyme involved in mRNA translatability and stability that is activated in multiple tumors (33), we investigated the role of PAP in regulation of MDA-9/syntenin expression and stability. When serum-starved melanoma cells were treated with rFVIIa + FX, the level of expression of PAP (Mr ~ 90,000) increased significantly compared with untreated cells (Fig. 2G), whereas MDA-9/syntenin protein levels significantly decreased (~90–95% reduction) upon infection of these cells with LV-PAP compared with LV-CTR-infected cells (Fig. 2H). In total, these results suggest that MDA-9/syntenin is regulated by a TF·FVIIa·Xa/PAR-1 signaling pathway at a post-transcriptional level, and that PAP promotes MDA-9/syntenin mRNA stability in malignant melanoma cells.

TF·FVIIa·Xa-induced MDA-9/Syntenin-mediated Signaling in Human Melanoma Cells

Experiments were performed to determine the intracellular signaling network underlying the TF·FVIIa-Xa-induced MDA-9/syntenin expression. Serum-starved rFVIIa + FX-treated Ad.null-infected T1P26, 7GP, and c8161 cells caused substantial increases in the phosphorylation of c-Src, ERK1/2, p38, and JNK MAP kinase as compared with untreated cells (Fig. 3A). However, Ad.Src.DN, Ad.MEK1.DN, Ad.p38α.DN, or Ad.JNK.DN (50 pfu/cell) infection of melanoma cells induced an ~3–4-fold decrease in c-Src, ERK1/2, p38, and JNK MAPK phosphorylation, respectively, when compared with rFVIIa + FX-treated Ad.null-infected cells (Fig. 3A and data not shown). Additionally, when serum-starved Ad.MDA-9/AS-infected melanoma cells (50 pfu/cell) were exposed to rFVIIa + FX, only c-Src phosphorylation at Tyr418 and JNK MAPK phosphorylation were significantly decreased compared with rFVIIa + FX-treated Ad.null-infected cells (Fig. 3A and data not shown). These data suggest that TF·FVIIa·Xa-mediated expression of MDA-9/syntenin induced activation of c-Src and JNK in malignant melanoma cells.

Effect of TF·FVIIa·Xa-mediated MDA-9/syntenin expression on activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway. Serum-starved stable melanoma cell lines, T1P26 and c8161, either untreated (UNR) or infected with ...

Because c-Src induces actin remodeling through activation of Cdc42 and Rac1 proteins (34), and both can activate JNKs (35), we investigated whether TF·FVIIa·Xa-induced MDA-9/syntenin expression is involved in the activation of these two GTP-binding proteins. As apparent in Fig. 3B, the activity of Rho-like GTPases Cdc42 and Rac1 were significantly increased in rFVIIa + FX-treated Ad.null-infected melanoma cell lines, T1P26 and c8161, compared with untreated cells (Fig. 3C). In contrast, infection of melanoma cells with either Ad.MDA-9/AS or Ad.Src.DN (50 pfu/cell) significantly blocked FVIIa + FX-induced Rac1 and Cdc42 activity, when compared with untreated or rFVIIa + FX-treated Ad.null-infected cells, respectively (Fig. 3B). In total, these results suggest a signaling pathway consisting of c-Src-Cdc42-Rac1-JNK mediates TF·FVIIa·Xa-induced MDA-9/syntenin expression in malignant melanoma cells.

Phosphorylation of paxillin, a focal adhesion-associated protein, was recently identified as a novel JNK substrate and can impact cell migration (36). As expected, infection of metastatic cells, T1P26 and c8161, with either Ad.MDA-9/AS, Ad.Src.DN, or Ad.JNK.DN (50 pfu/cell) or Ad.Rac1.DN+Ad.Cdc42.DN (25 pfu/cell of each virus), induce a robust decrease in paxillin phosphorylation of Ser178 compared with rFVIIa + FX-stimulated Ad.null-infected cells (Fig. 3C). Given that JNK can directly induce phosphorylation of paxillin on Ser178, which in turn increase the association of paxillin with FAK to facilitate the phosphorylation of paxillin on Tyr31 and Tyr118 during cell migration (36, 37), we next considered whether rFVIIa·Xa-mediated MDA-9/syntenin expression was involved in the association of paxillin with FAK. Serum-starved melanoma cell lines c8161 and T1P26, transfected with HA-FAK, were stimulated with rFVIIa + FX and cell lysates from these cells were then immunoprecipitated with HA antibody followed by immunoblotting with anti-phospho-Ser178, Tyr31, or Tyr118 paxillin and FAK antibodies. As expected, phospho-Ser178, Tyr31, or Tyr118 paxillin was found to associate with FAK in rFVIIa + FX-stimulated melanoma cells, but such association was inhibited by Ad.Src.DN, with Ad.MDA-9/AS, Ad.Src.DN, or Ad.JNK.DN (50 pfu/cell) or Ad.Rac1.DN + Ad.Cdc42.DN (25 pfu/cell of each virus), compared with rFVIIa + FX-stimulated Ad.null-infected cells (Fig. 3D and data not shown). Activation of the NF-κB pathway is another key feature of TF·FVIIa·FXa-mediated regulation of gene expression (26). Treatment of serum-starved melanoma cells, T1P26 and c8161, with rFVIIa + FX significantly increased the transcriptional activity of the NF-κB-responsive promoter compared with untreated cells (Fig. 4A). In sharp contrast, the NF-κB-responsive promoter was significantly decreased (up to 7-fold) on infection of melanoma cells with Ad.MDA-9/AS or Ad.Src.DN (50 pfu/cell) or Ad.Rac1.DN + Ad.Cdc42.DN (25 pfu/cell of each virus), but not with Ad.JNK.DN compared with rFVIIa + FX-treated Ad.null-infected cells (Fig. 4A). We also determined whether TF·FVIIa·Xa-mediated expression of MDA-9/syntenin requires phosphorylation of the macromolecular IκB kinase (IKK) complex, IκBα and RelA/p65. As shown in Fig. 4B, rFVIIa + FX increased the levels of phospho-Ser-IKKα/β, phospho-Ser-p65, and phospho-Ser-IκBα in both c8161 and T1P26 melanoma cell lines. In sharp contrast, overexpression of MDA-9/AS or dominant-negative forms of Src or Rac1 and Cdc42 by means of adenoviral vectors (50, 50, and 25 pfu/cell of each virus, respectively) suppressed rFVIIa·Xa-induced phosphorylation of phospho-Ser-IKKα/β, phospho-Ser-p65, and phospho-Ser-IκBα in melanoma cell lines, whereas adenovirus-mediated dominant-negative JNK (50 pfu/cell) has no effect (Fig. 4B). To confirm the functional end point of NF-κB activation by TF·FVIIa·FXa-mediated MDA-9/syntenin expression, MMP-2, a well known NF-κB target gene, was analyzed by RT-PCR and zymography. As expected, a significant increase in MMP-2 mRNA expression, MMP-2 protein levels, and active MMP-2 was detected in rFVIIa + FX-stimulated metastatic cells, T1P26 and c8161, in comparison to untreated cells (Fig. 5, A and B). In contrast, this increase in the levels of active MMP-2 expression was prevented (~90–95% reduction) following infection of melanoma cells with either Ad.MDA-9/AS or an adenovirus expressing the mt32IκBα superrepressor (Ad.mt32Iκbα-mt32) (50 pfu/cell), which prevents p65 nuclear translocation when compared with rFVIIa + FX-stimulated Ad.null-infected cells (Fig. 5, A and B). As a corollary, treatment of rFVIIa + FX-stimulated metastatic cells with rivaroxaban, or LV-PAR-1 shRNAs significantly (~85–95%) decreased activity of c-Src, Rac1, Cdc42, JNK, and paxillin in comparison with rFVIIa + FX-treated LV-control shRNAs-infected cells (Fig. 5C). Similarly, NF-κB transcriptional activity and active MMP-2 was significantly decreased following infection of rFVIIa + FX-stimulated melanoma cells with Ad.MDA-9/AS, LV-PAR-1 shRNAs, or treatment with rivaroxaban, compared with rFVIIa + FX-stimulated LV-control shRNAs-infected cells or rFVIIa + FX-stimulated Ad.null-infected cells (Fig. 5, D and E).

Effect of TF·FVIIa·Xa-mediated MDA-9/syntenin expression on activation of NF-κB in human melanoma cells. Serum-starved stable melanoma cell lines, T1P26 and c8161, either untreated (UNR) or infected with Ad.null, Ad.MDA-9/AS, Ad. ...
Effect of TF·FVIIa·Xa-mediated MDA-9/syntenin expression on MMP-2 activation and inhibition of PAR-1 on activation of the Rac1/Cdc42 signaling pathway and NF-κB in human melanoma cells. Melanoma cell lines, c8161 and T1P26, infected ...

TF·FVIIa·Xa Promotes the Interaction of MDA-9/Syntenin with c-Src in Human Melanoma Cells

When overexpressed by means of an adenoviral expression system, MDA-9/syntenin associates with c-Src tyrosine kinase and initiates a signaling cascade that culminates in enhanced cell migration and invasion of melanoma cells (8). rFVIIa + FX induce a robust increase in MDA-9/syntenin protein expression and c-Src activity in melanoma cells. These findings prompted us to investigate whether interactions between MDA-9/syntenin and c-Src in melanoma cells are influenced by rFVIIa + FX. Immunoprecipitation with anti-MDA-9 antibody pulls down a significant level of p-Src interacting with MDA-9/syntenin in rFVIIa + FX-treated serum-starved metastatic cells, T1P26 and c8161, in comparison with control IgG antibody or untreated cells (Fig. 6A, left panel). In contrast, this interaction was prevented in rFVIIa + FX-treated cells that were infected with Ad.MDA-9/AS (50 pfu/cell), compared with control IgG or Ad.null-infected cells (Fig. 6A, right panel). Double immunofluorescence also documented co-localization of c-Src and MDA-9 in rFVIIa + FX-treated T1P26 and c8161 cells (Fig. 6B and data not shown).

rFVIIa and FX enhance association of MDA-9/syntenin with c-Src. A, serum-starved melanoma cell lines, T1P26 and c8161, were either untreated (UNT), or treated for 60 min with rFVIIa (10 nm) and FX (150 nm) (left panel), or infected with adenovirus (Ad.null ...

GST pulldown assay further verified the interaction between MDA-9/syntenin and p-Src in rFVIIa + FX-stimulated melanoma cells. Physical interaction of MDA-9/syntenin and p-Src was significantly increased following incubation of rFVIIa + FX-treated serum-starved lysates from T1P26 or c8161 melanoma cells in comparison with untreated cells (Fig. 6, C and D). Additionally, GST-MDA-9/syntenin fusion proteins lacking both PDZ-1 and -2 domains (MDA-9ΔPDZ1 + 2) failed to interact with endogeneous p-Src compared with full-length GST-MDA-9/syntenin in rFVIIa + FX-stimulated tumor cells (Fig. 6, C and D), providing further documentation of the in vivo interaction of MDA-9/syntenin with p-Src that requires exogeneous rFVIIa and FX.

Cell Migration, Invasion, and Metastasis of Human Melanoma Cell Depend on TF·FVIIa·Xa-mediated MDA-9/syntenin Expression

To assess further the involvement of TF·FVIIa·FXa-induced MDA-9/syntenin expression in tumor cell migration and invasion, two prominent characteristics of tumor malignancy, we first used in vitro cell migration and Matrigel invasion assays that were performed in the presence of hirudin.

As shown in Fig. 7, A and B, rFVIIa and 150 nm FX induce a significant dose-dependent increase of migration and invasion (~4- to ~6-fold) of 7GP, T1P26, and c8161 cells, compared with rFVIIa alone. In contrast, adding rFVIIai (100 nm), rivaroxaban (2 μm), neutralizing antibodies, along with rFVIIa and FX, markedly inhibited migration and invasion of melanoma cells, compared with rFVII + FX-treated cells or IgG control antibody (Fig. 7, A and B). More importantly, infection of rFVIIa + FX-stimulated melanoma cells with LV-PAR-1 shRNAs (20 m.o.i.) or Ad.MDA-9/AS (50 pfu/cell) but not LV-PAR-2 also dramatically decreased (~85–95%) cell migration and invasion, in comparison with rFVIIa + FX-stimulated LV-control shRNA-infected cells, or rFVIIa + FX-stimulated Ad.null-infected cells, respectively (Fig. 7, A and B). This increased migration and invasion induced by rFVIIa + FX was also strongly inhibited (~85–90%) on infection of rFVIIa + FX-stimulated melanoma cells with Ad.SrcDN, Ad.JNKDN, Ad.mt32Iκbα-mt32 (50 pfu/cell), or Ad.DNRac1 + CDC42 (25 pfu/cell of each virus), compared with rFVIIa + FX-stimulated Ad.null-infected cells (Fig. 8, A and B). Despite the differences in the migratory and invasive potential of melanoma cell lines, cells treated with rFVIIa + X in the presence or absence of adenoviral infection with Ad.MDA-9/AS (50 pfu/cell) did not show marked differences in their proliferation (Fig. 9, A–C). Because rFVIIa + X induced MDA-9/syntenin expression in M4Beu/TF, we predicted that rFVIIa + X would induce migration and invasion of M4Beu/TF cells. In agreement, increasing concentrations of rFVIIa (0.1, 1, and 10 nm) and 150 nm FX induce a significant dose-dependent increase of migration and invasion of melanoma cells overexpressing TF compared with rFVIIa alone (Fig. 7C). In contrast, rFVIIai, rivaroxaban, anti-TF, or LV-PAR-1 shRNAs, or Ad.MDA-9/AS significantly altered M4Beu/TF cell migration and invasion compared with rFVIIa + FX -stimulated Ad.null-infected cells or rFVIIa + FX-stimulated LV-control shRNA-infected cells (Fig. 7C). Additionally, infection of M4Beu/TF with Ad.SrcDN, Ad.JNKDN, Ad.mt32Iκbα-mt32, or Ad.DNRac1 + CDC42, blocked migration and invasion of rFVIIa + FX-stimulated M4Beu cells, compared with rFVIIa + FX-stimulated Ad.null-infected cells (Fig. 8C). In total, these data further strengthen the involvement of the TF·FVIIa·FXa/PAR-1 signaling pathway in MDA-9/syntenin-induced migration and invasion of melanoma cells.

MDA-9/syntenin mediates cell migration and invasion of melanoma cells induced by rFVIIa and FX. A–C, serum-starved melanoma cell lines, 7GP, T1P26, and c8161 or M4Beu/TF were added to the upper well and rFVIIa ranging from 0.1 to 10 nm + FX (150 ...
Effect of rFVIIa·Xa signaling on MDA-9/syntenin-induced cell migration and invasion of melanoma. A–C, serum-starved melanoma cell lines 7GP, T1P26, and c8161 or M4Beu/TF either untreated (UNR), or infected with Ad.null or Ad.JNK.DN, Ad. ...
Effect of rFVIIa·Xa signaling on MDA-9/syntenin-induced cell proliferation of melanoma. A–C, cells were left untreated (UNR) or infected with 50 pfu/cell of Ad.null or Ad.MDA-9/AS. 48 h later, serum-starved cells were seeded in 96-well ...

A direct involvement of FVIIa·TF-induced expression of MDA-9/syntenin in tumor cell metastasis was further evaluated in vivo. As demonstrated in Fig. 10A, the average number of metastatic lung lesions in untreated (146 ± 8 and 150 ± 10 lung nodules) or LV-control shRNA-infected cells, T1P26 and c8161 (152 ± 10 and 148 ± 8 lung nodules), was significantly decreased on infection of T1P26 and c8161 metastatic cells with shRNAs LV-TF (8 ± 2 and 12 ± 2 lung nodules). Similarly, the average number of lung metastatic foci was significantly increased in the MDA-9/syntenin group (86 ± 12 lung nodules) and the TF group (98 ± 10 lung nodules) compared with control M4Beu cells (12 ± 2 lung nodules). In total, these in vitro and in vivo studies confirm a cause and effect relationship between TF-mediated MDA-9/syntenin expression and metastatic competence in human melanoma cells.

Effect of rFVIIa·Xa signaling on MDA-9/syntenin-induced melanoma metastasis in vivo. A, lung metastasis with M4Beu cells either untreated (UNR) or overexpressing stable TF (M4Beu/TF) or stable MDA-9 (M4Beu/MDA-9) and T1P26 melanoma cells either ...


We presently document, for the first time, that rFVIIa binding to tumor cell TF initiates a signaling cascade that culminates in the induction of MDA-9/syntenin leading to cell migration, invasion, and metastatic spread. Consistent with previous reports (23, 24, 38), we found that rFVIIa, at a near plasma concentration (10 nm), is insufficient to induce MDA-9/syntenin expression in melanoma, and that FXa in the ternary TF·FVIIa·Xa complex efficiently induces expression of this gene in melanoma. We also document that a poly(A) polymerase, a TF-regulated gene that is up-regulated in multiple cancers in response to exposure to FVIIa (33) promotes MDA-9/syntenin mRNA stability and translatability, thereby leading to an increase in melanoma cell motility and invasion. Importantly, we show that specifically blocking the functionality or expression of the pertinent signaling molecules can induce a signaling axis consisting of PAR-1/c-Src/Cdc42/Rac1/JNK/paxillin and mediates TF·FVIIa·Xa-induced MDA-9/syntenin that leads to NF-κB activation and subsequent expression of MMP-2, thereby promoting migration/invasion and metastatic potential of human melanoma cells.

Our findings provide strong evidence that PAR-1 is the central signaling receptor responsible for TF·FVIIa·FXa-induced MDA-9/syntenin in melanoma, as a reduction in PAR-1 protein by siRNA significantly decreases melanoma cell migration/invasion. These phenotypic changes did not involve thrombin formation suggesting that the promigratory and proinvasive roles of MDA-9/syntenin in melanoma resulted from the predominant activation of PAR-1 by FXa. It has been reported that PAR-1 and PAR-2 are complexed together and that cleaved PAR-1 transactivates PAR-2 to induce chemotaxis in multiple cancer cells (39, 40). Interestingly, thrombin, but not FXa, activated the PAR-1·PAR-2 complex (39, 41). Accordingly, it is conceivable that in our melanoma model increased expression of an important scaffolding protein, such as MDA-9/syntenin through a TF·FVIIa/PAR-1-dependent mechanism facilitates melanoma invasion and migration early in the metastatic process and subsequent activation of PAR-2 by the tethered ligand of cleaved PAR1, which has been described to contribute to thrombin responses in endothelial cells (41), may allow tumor cells to acquire a highly aggressive phenotype. An intriguing question is how coagulation factors FVIIa and FX can orchestrate MDA-9/syntenin-induced tumor cell migration/invasion in extravascular space? Extravascular blood coagulation is observed in multiple cancers, including melanoma (42). In preliminary studies, we were unable to detect FX mRNA expression in melanoma cells by RT-PCR. However, FX is frequently detected in several cancer specimens, including melanoma (18), and may be locally delivered to the tumor microenvironment by macrophages/inflammatory cells that bind FX through Mac-1 (43). These observations together with the fact that hypoxia in multiple cancers also enhances expression of FVII (44), lend further support for a critical role of MDA-9/syntenin in the TF·FVIIa·Xa/PAR-1 signaling axis that regulates cell motility and tumor progression.

Multiple studies now indicate that TF·FVIIa·Xa complexes initiates signal transduction, resulting in the activation of a number of pathways that shape the microenvironment of the tumor (25, 26). Interestingly, our results demonstrated that the PDZ scaffold protein MDA-9/syntenin forms a signaling complex with Src that requires exogeneous rFVIIa and FX. We observed that inhibition of the MDA-9/syntenin interactions with c-Src blocked TF·FVIIa·Xa/PAR-1-induced Rac-1/Cdc42 and JNK signaling and that inhibiting JNK prevented TF·FVIIa·Xa/PAR-1-induced paxillin Ser178, and Tyr31/Tyr118 phosphorylation. The JNK-SAPKs together with FAK have been shown to directly phosphorylate and regulate the activity of paxillin Ser178 and Tyr31/Tyr118, three major JNK phosphorylation sites that facilitate tumor cell migration and metastatic spread of several human malignancies (36, 37, 45). These observations coupled with our present findings suggest that the MDA-9·syntenin·c-Src signaling complex induced by a TF·FVIIa·Xa pathway most likely facilitates tumor cells to leave their original tumor site and migrate to the lungs.

Several additional lines of evidence suggest that the MDA-9·syntenin·Src signaling complex is upstream of Rac-1 and Cdc42 and that these two different signaling molecules functionally cooperate with the TF·FVIIa·Xa-induced NF-κB/MMP-2 pathway to promote melanoma cell migration and invasion. Dominant-negative Rac-1 and Cdc42 mutants, but not JNK mutant, blocked NF-κB activation induced by TF·FVIIa·Xa (Fig. 4A), consistent with the observation that human Rac-1 and Cdc42 efficiently activate NF-κB and JNK (46, 47). Overall, these finding and our present study suggest a series of coordinated signaling transduction events involving MDA-9/syntenin that ultimately leads to the acquisition of a motile phenotype by melanoma cells. Indeed, blocking MDA-9/syntenin in response to rFVIIa and FX, or interfering with TF (48), Rho proteins (49), NF-κB-regulated genes such as MMP-2 (50), or more importantly inhibition of the Src/paxillin signaling pathway (45, 51) has been shown to inhibit tumor growth and metastasis in preclinical studies and clinical trials.

In summary, we presently uncover a critical and hitherto unappreciated role of MDA-9/syntenin as an important TF·FVIIa·Xa/PAR-1-regulated gene that initiates a novel signaling circuit essential for cell motility, ECM invasion, and metastasis. Our findings support a hypothetical model whereby the ternary TF·FVIIa·Xa signaling complex acting through PAR-1 promotes expression and interaction of MDA-9/syntenin with c-Src, which then activates the Rho GTPases, Rac/Cdc42-mediated NF-κB activation, and JNK-mediated paxillin phosphorylation through two distinct signal transduction pathways leading to enhanced cell motility, invasion, and metastasis (Fig. 10B). The link established in this study between the TF signaling complex and MDA-9/syntenin has significant implications for the regulation of motility events associated with wound healing and tumor metastasis because PAR-1 has pro-tumorigenic and pro-metastatic effects on cancer cells (52, 53). In these contexts, up-regulation of an important PDZ scaffolding signaling protein, such as MDA-9/syntenin, through a TF-dependent mechanism, with the ability to recruit and organize formation of the TF signaling complexes may significantly affect melanoma progression and potentially progression of other malignant tumors. Therapeutics that prevent TF·FVIIa·Xa complex formation and its regulated genes may be useful for managing thrombotic complications associated with malignancy but also for preventing tumor growth and dissemination.


We are grateful to Dr. Mary J. C. Hendrix and Elisabeth A. Seftor for providing the cancer cell line.

*This work was supported by grants from the Ligue Nationale Contre le Cancer (Comités du rhône and Ardèche) (to H. B.) and the French Association pour la Recherche sur le Cancer, ARC (to H. B.).

2The abbreviations used are:

melanoma differentiation associated gene-9
tissue factor
protease-activated receptor
poly(A) polymerase.


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