The X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) is involved in melanoma invasion by regulating cell migration and survival

Ayachi O, Barlin M, Broxtermann PN, Kashkar H, Mauch C, Zigrino P

Cell Oncol (Dordr) 2019 Feb;

PMID: 30778852


BACKGROUND: The X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) is a potent cellular inhibitor of apoptosis, based on its unique capability to bind and to inhibit caspases. However, XIAP is also involved in a number of additional cellular activities independent of its caspase inhibitory function. The aim of this study was to investigate whether modulation of XIAP expression affects apoptosis-independent functions of XIAP in melanoma cells, restores their sensitivity to apoptosis and/or affects their invasive and metastatic capacities.

METHODS: XIAP protein levels were analyzed by immunohistochemical staining of human tissues and by Western blotting of melanoma cell lysates. The effects of pharmacological inhibition or of XIAP down-regulation were investigated using ex-vivo and transwell invasion assays. The biological effects of XIAP down-regulation on melanoma cells were analyzed in vitro using BrdU/PI, nucleosome quantification, adhesion and migration assays. In addition, new XIAP binding partners were identified by co-immunoprecipitation followed by mass spectrometry.

RESULTS: Here we found that the expression of XIAP is increased in metastatic melanomas and in invasive melanoma-derived cell lines. We also found that the bivalent IAP antagonist birinapant significantly reduced the invasive capability of melanoma cells. This reduction could be reproduced by downregulating XIAP in melanoma cells. Furthermore, we found that the migration of melanoma cells and the formation of focal adhesions at cellular borders on fibronectin-coated surfaces were significantly reduced upon XIAP knockdown. This reduction may depend on an altered vimentin-XIAP association, since we identified vimentin as a new binding partner of XIAP. As a corollary of these molecular alterations, we found that XIAP down-regulation in melanoma cells led to a significant decrease in invasion of dermal skin equivalents.

CONCLUSION: From our data we conclude that XIAP acts as a multifunctional pro-metastatic protein in skin melanomas and, as a consequence, that XIAP may serve as a therapeutic target for these melanomas.

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