Research Papers:

Glucose transporter isoform 1 expression enhances metastasis of malignant melanoma cells

Andreas Koch, Sven Arke Lang, Peter Johannes Wild, Susanne Gantner, Abdo Mahli, Gerrit Spanier, Mark Berneburg, Martina Müller, Anja Katrin Bosserhoff and Claus Hellerbrand _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:32748-32760. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4977

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Andreas Koch1, Sven Arke Lang2, Peter Johannes Wild3, Susanne Gantner4, Abdo Mahli1, Gerrit Spanier5, Mark Berneburg4, Martina Müller1, Anja Katrin Bosserhoff6, and Claus Hellerbrand1

1 Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital Regensburg, Germany

2 Department of Surgery, University Hospital Regensburg, Germany

3 Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland

4 Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Regensburg, Germany

5 Department of Cranio-Maxillo-Facial Surgery, University Hospital Regensburg, Germany

6 Institute of Biochemistry, University of Erlangen, Germany

Correspondence to:

Claus Hellerbrand, email:

Keywords: GLUT1, melanoma, metastasis, glycolysis, JNK

Received: April 30, 2015 Accepted: July 11, 2015 Published: July 22, 2015


The glucose transporter isoform 1 (GLUT1; SLC2A1) is a key rate-limiting factor in the transport of glucose into cancer cells. Enhanced GLUT1 expression and accelerated glycolysis have been found to promote aggressive growth in a range of tumor entities. However, it was unknown whether GLUT1 directly impacts metastasis. Here, we aimed at analyzing the expression and function of GLUT1 in malignant melanoma. Immunohistochemical analysis of 78 primary human melanomas on a tissue micro array showed that GLUT1 expression significantly correlated with the mitotic activity and a poor survival. To determine the functional role of GLUT1 in melanoma, we stably suppressed GLUT1 in the murine melanoma cell line B16 with shRNA. GLUT1 suppressed melanoma cells revealed significantly reduced proliferation, apoptosis resistance, migratory activity and matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2) expression. In a syngeneic murine model of hepatic metastasis, GLUT1-suppressed cells formed significantly less metastases and showed increased apoptosis compared to metastases formed by control cells. Treatment of four different human melanoma cell lines with a pharmacological GLUT1 inhibitor caused a dose-dependent reduction of proliferation, apoptosis resistance, migratory activity and MMP2 expression. Analysis of MAPK signal pathways showed that GLUT1 inhibition significantly decreased JNK activation, which regulates a wide range of targets in the metastatic cascade. In summary, our study provides functional evidence that enhanced GLUT1 expression in melanoma cells favors their metastatic behavior. These findings specify GLUT1 as an attractive therapeutic target and prognostic marker for this highly aggressive tumor.

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