Cutaneous melanoma has been increasing at an alarming rate over the past two decades, however, there are no acceptable histopathological markers that classify various stages of melanoma progression. Recently, the molecular analysis of cancer has contributed significantly to our understanding of the cellular and molecular underpinnings of tumor progression. The data summarized in this review describe the molecular signature of aggressive cutaneous melanoma cells as that of multiple phenotypes which may be similar to a pluripotent, embryonic-like phenotype. An example of the plasticity of this phenotype is demonstrated by the ability of aggressive melanoma cells to engage in vasculogenic mimicry and neovascularization. A review of the current data demonstrating important cellular and molecular determinants of human melanoma vasculogenic mimicry is presented. These findings should stimulate additional studies to address the biological relevance of the multiple molecular phenotypes expressed by aggressive melanoma cells which may lead to the development of new diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets for clinical intervention.
- Epithelial cell kinase (ECK, EphA2)
- Vasculogenic mimicry
ASJC Scopus subject areas