Role of integrin-linked kinase in human melanoma invasion

Cutaneous melanoma is a highly aggressive skin cancer. The highly malignant nature of melanoma is characterized by the capability of the melanoma cells to invade tissue below the epidermis and spread (metastasize) to almost any organ. Melanoma cells acquire distinct characteristics that enable them to break loose from surrounding tissue and migrate to remote sites. Cell migration is a complex process involving a variety of signaling proteins. Many studies have suggested that integrin-linked kinase (ILK), which provides a link across the cell membrane between integrins in extracellular matrix and actin filaments within the cell, is able to regulate the activity of various components of cell movement. Most strikingly, ILK is highly expressed (active) in melanoma compared to normal epidermal cells, and its expression is significantly correlated with melanoma progression. Philip Ng is studying the role of ILK in melanoma invasion. By investigating the molecular mechanisms on melanoma cell migration promoted by ILK, he hopes to assess the feasibility of blocking melanoma cell migration by interfering with the action of ILK.