β-All-trans-retinoic acid (RA) has been shown to inhibit the growth, enhance the differentiation, and suppress the transformed and metastatic properties of certain human and murine melanoma cells. This study examined the effect of RA on the level of a cell surface receptor (Mr 78,000) (gp78) for an autocrine motility factor, which has been implicated in invasion and metastasis. Treatment of murine melanoma cell lines S91-C2, B16-F1, and K1735-P with RA (10 µm) for 5 days decreased the level of gp78 by 37, 72, and 92%, respectively, as revealed by immunoblotting with monoclonal antibodies raised against gp78. In contrast, RA had only a limited effect on gp78 levels in melanoma cell clones or variant cell lines that are resistant to the growth-inhibitory effects of RA (S91-C154, B16-F10, and K1735-CI19). Further studies with K1735-P, the most sensitive cell line with respect to modulation of gp78, showed that the decrease in gp78 level required at least 1 µm RA and 4 to 5 days of treatment. The binding of anti-gp78 antibodies to the surface of intact RA-treated cells and to intracellular gp78 in permeabilized cells was also lower than in untreated cells. Furthermore, RA treatment decreased the induction of cell motility, on colloidal gold-coated glass coverslips, by anti-gp78 antibodies, which mimic the effect of autocrine motility factor. The RA-induced decrease in antibody-enhanced cell motility was similar to the time- and RA concentration-dependent decrease in the amount of gp78, suggesting that the two events are related. These results raise the possibility that the previously reported suppression by RA of tumor cell invasion and metastasis may be related, at least in part, to suppression of cell motility resulting from the decreased level of the autocrine motility factor receptor.

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This work was supported in part by the M. D. Anderson Annual Campaign Fund (to R. L.) and by USPHS Grant CA 51714-01A2 from the National Cancer Institute and the Paul Zuckerman Support Foundation for Cancer Research (to A. R.).

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