Infoscience

Journal article

Paracrine Activin-A Signaling Promotes Melanoma Growth and Metastasis through Immune Evasion

The secreted growth factor Activin-A of the transforming growth factor beta family and its receptors can promote or inhibit several cancer hallmarks including tumor cell proliferation and differentiation, vascularization, lymphangiogenesis and inflammation. However, a role in immune evasion and its relationship with tumor-induced muscle wasting and tumor vascularization, and the relative contributions of autocrine versus paracrine Activin signaling remain to be evaluated. To address this, we compared the effects of truncated soluble Activin receptor IIB as a ligand trap, or constitutively active mutant type IB receptor versus secreted Activin-A or the related ligand Nodal in mouse and human melanoma cell lines and tumor grafts. We found that although cell-autonomous receptor activation arrested tumor cell proliferation, Activin-A secretion stimulated melanoma cell dedifferentiation and tumor vascularization by functional blood vessels, and it increased primary and metastatic tumor burden and muscle wasting. Importantly, in mice with impaired adaptive immunity, the tumor-promoting effect of Activin-A was lost despite sustained vascularization and cachexia, suggesting that Activin-A promotes melanoma progression by inhibiting antitumor immunity. Paracrine Activin-A signaling emerges as a potential target for personalized therapies, both to reduce cachexia and to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapies.

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