Journal of Pathology 2015 July 15 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Burkin DJ, Fontelonga TM.


Mesothelioma is a disease of pleural cells lining the lungs which is often caused by exposure to asbestos. The molecular mechanism(s) that regulate the transformation of pleural mesothelioma cells to a migratory and malignant phenotype are unclear. In recent work published in this journal, Laszlo, Hoda et al performed a set of elegant experiments to identify a key molecular mechanism that may explain the aggressive nature of this disease. Using patient derived mesothelioma cells with high vs low migratory activity, the authors conducted a genome wide expression analysis. They identified a significant reduction in ITGA7 expression only in highly migratory malignant pleural mesothelioma cells and showed that loss of ITGA7 expression was associated with methylation of the promoter. Forced expression of Integrin α7 reversed the migratory phenotype of these cells. Finally, the authors identified a strong correlation between ITGA7 expression and patient survival. Together these results identify expression of Integrin α7 as a molecular mechanism for the aggressive migratory transformation of mesothelioma and identify a potentially novel diagnostic and therapeutic target.