Differentiation-inducing factor-1 (DIF-1) isolated from Dictyostelium discoideum strongly inhibits the proliferation of various mammalian cells through the activation of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3). To evaluate DIF-1 as a novel anti-cancer agent for malignant melanoma, we examined whether DIF-1 has anti-proliferative, anti-migratory, and anti-invasive effects on melanoma cells using in vitro and in vivo systems. DIF-1 reduced the expression levels of cyclin D1 and c-Myc by facilitating their degradation via GSK-3 in mouse (B16BL6) and human (A2058) malignant melanoma cells, and thereby strongly inhibited their proliferation. DIF-1 suppressed the canonical Wnt signaling pathway by lowering the expression levels of transcription factor 7-like 2 and β-catenin, key transcription factors in this pathway. DIF-1 also inhibited cell migration and invasion, reducing the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-2; however, this effect was not dependent on GSK-3 activity. In a mouse lung tumor formation model, repeated oral administrations of DIF-1 markedly reduced melanoma colony formation in the lung. These results suggest that DIF-1 inhibits cell proliferation by a GSK-3-dependent mechanism and suppresses cell migration and invasion by a GSK-3-independent mechanism. Therefore, DIF-1 may have a potential as a novel anti-cancer agent for the treatment of malignant melanoma.
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