Immunomagnetic-enriched subpopulations of melanoma circulating tumour cells (CTCs) exhibit distinct transcriptome profiles

Carlos Aya-Bonilla, Elin S. Gray, Jayapal Manikandan, James B. Freeman, Pauline Zaenker, Anna L. Reid, Muhammad A. Khattak, Markus H. Frank, Michael Millward, Mel Ziman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


Cutaneous melanoma circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are phenotypically and molecularly heterogeneous. We profiled the gene expression of CTC subpopulations immunomagnetic-captured by targeting either the melanoma-associated marker, MCSP, or the melanoma-initiating marker, ABCB5. Firstly, the expression of a subset of melanoma genes was investigated by RT-PCR in MCSP-enriched and ABCB5-enriched CTCs isolated from a total of 59 blood draws from 39 melanoma cases. Of these, 6 MCSP-and 6 ABCB5-enriched CTC fractions were further analysed using a genome-wide gene expression microarray. The transcriptional programs of both CTC subtypes included cell survival maintenance, cell proliferation, and migration pathways. ABCB5-enriched CTCs were specifically characterised by up-regulation of genes involved in epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), suggesting an invasive phenotype. These findings underscore the presence of at least two distinct melanoma CTC subpopulations with distinct transcriptional programs, which may have distinct roles in disease progression and response to therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number157
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

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