Background: Tumor vascular mimicry is an emerging issue that affects patient survival while having no treatment at the current moment. Despite several factors implicated in vascular mimicry, little is known about stromal factors that modulate tumor microenvironment and shape malignant transformation. CD248, a type-I transmembrane protein dominantly expressed in stromal cells, mediates the interaction between cells and extracellular matrix proteins. CD248 protein expression is associated with the metastatic melanoma phenotype and promotes tumor progression in the stromal cells. This study aimed to explore the cell-autonomous effects of CD248 in melanoma vascular mimicry to aid cancer therapy development. Methods: Loss-of-function approaches in B16F10 melanoma cells were used to study the cell-autonomous effects of CD248 on cell adhesion, migration, proliferation, and vascular mimicry. A solid-phase binding assay was performed to identify the interaction between CD248 and fibronectin. Horizontal and vertical cell migration assays were performed to analyze cell migration activity, and cell-patterned network formation on Matrigel was used to evaluate vascular mimicry activity. Recombinant CD248 (rCD248) proteins were generated, and whether rCD248 interfered with melanoma CD248 functions was evaluated in vitro. An experimental lung metastasis mouse model was used to investigate the effect of rCD248 treatment in vivo. Results: CD248 protein expression in melanoma cells was increased by a fibroblast-conditioned medium. Knockdown of CD248 expression significantly decreased cell adhesion to fibronectin, cell migration, and vascular mimicry in melanoma cells. The lectin domain of CD248 was directly involved in the interaction between CD248 and fibronectin. Furthermore, rCD248 proteins containing its lectin domain inhibited cell adhesion to fibronectin and slowed down cell migration and vascular mimicry. Treatment with rCD248 protein could reduce pulmonary tumor burden, accompanied by a reduction in vascular mimicry in mice with melanoma lung metastasis. Conclusion: CD248 expression in melanoma cells promotes malignant transformation by increasing the activity of cell adhesion, migration, and vascular mimicry, whereas rCD248 protein functions as a molecular decoy interfering with tumor-promoting effects of CD248 in melanoma cells.
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