J Biol Chem 2006 Feb 23;281(5):2911-22. Epub 2005 Nov 23.
Department of Cancer Biology, the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and the Program in Cancer Biology, the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.
Overexpression of cAMP-response element (CRE)-binding protein (CREB) and activating transcription factor (ATF) 1 contributes to melanoma progression and metastasis at least in part by promoting tumor cell survival and stimulating matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 2 expression. However, little is known about the regulation of CREB and ATF-1 activities and their phosphorylation within the tumor microenvironment. We analyzed the effect of platelet-activating factor (PAF), a potent phospholipid mediator of inflammation, for its ability to activate CREB and ATF-1 in eight cultured human melanoma cell lines, and we found that PAF receptor (PAFR) was expressed in all eight lines. In metastatic melanoma cell lines, PAF induced CREB and ATF-1 phosphorylation via a PAFR-mediated signal transduction mechanism that required pertussis toxin-insensitive Galphaq protein and adenylate cyclase activity and was antagonized by a cAMP-dependent protein kinase A and p38 MAPK inhibitors. Addition of PAF to metastatic A375SM cells stimulated CRE-dependent transcription, as observed in a luciferase reporter assay, without increasing the CRE DNA binding capacity of CREB. Furthermore, PAF stimulated the gelatinase activity of MMP-2 by activating transcription and MMP-2 expression. MMP-2 activation correlated with the PAF-induced increase in the expression of an MMP-2 activator, membrane type 1 MMP. PAF-induced expression of pro-MMP-2 was causally related to PAF-induced CREB and ATF-1 phosphorylation; it was prevented by PAFR antagonist and inhibitors of p38 MAPK and protein kinase A and was abrogated upon quenching of CREB and ATF-1 activities by forced overexpression of a dominant-negative form of CREB. PAF-induced MMP-2 activation was also down-regulated by p38 MAPK and protein kinase A inhibitors. Finally, PAFR antagonist PCA4248 inhibited the development of A375SM lung metastasis in nude mice. This result indicated that PAF acts as a promoter of melanoma metastasis in vivo. We proposed that metastatic melanoma cells overexpressing CREB/ATF-1 are better equipped than nonmetastatic cells to respond to PAF within the tumor microenvironment.