International Journal of Molecular Sciences (Nov 2021)

MCAM/MUC18/CD146 as a Multifaceted Warning Marker of Melanoma Progression in Liquid Biopsy

  • Maria Cristina Rapanotti,
  • Elisa Cugini,
  • Marzia Nuccetelli,
  • Alessandro Terrinoni,
  • Cosimo Di Raimondo,
  • Paolo Lombardo,
  • Gaetana Costanza,
  • Terenzio Cosio,
  • Piero Rossi,
  • Augusto Orlandi,
  • Elena Campione,
  • Sergio Bernardini,
  • Marcel Blot-Chabaud,
  • Luca Bianchi

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 22
p. 12416


Read online

Human malignant melanoma shows a high rate of mortality after metastasization, and its incidence is continuously rising worldwide. Several studies have suggested that MCAM/MUC18/CD146 plays an important role in the progression of this malignant disease. MCAM/MUC18/CD146 is a typical single-spanning transmembrane glycoprotein, existing as two membrane isoforms, long and short, and an additional soluble form, sCD146. We previously documented that molecular MCAM/MUC18/CD146 expression is strongly associated with disease progression. Recently, we showed that MCAM/MUC18/CD146 and ABCB5 can serve as melanoma-specific-targets in the selection of highly primitive circulating melanoma cells, and constitute putative proteins associated with disease spreading progression. Here, we analyzed CD146 molecular expression at onset or at disease recurrence in an enlarged melanoma case series. For some patients, we also performed the time courses of molecular monitoring. Moreover, we explored the role of soluble CD146 in different cohorts of melanoma patients at onset or disease progression, rather than in clinical remission, undergoing immune therapy or free from any clinical treatment. We showed that MCAM/MUC18/CD146 can be considered as: (1) a membrane antigen suitable for identification and enrichment in melanoma liquid biopsy; (2) a highly effective molecular “warning” marker for minimal residual disease monitoring; and (3) a soluble protein index of inflammation and putative response to therapeutic treatments.