Integrins are the major family of cell adhesion receptors in humans and essential for a wide range of normal physiology, including formation and maintenance of tissue structure integrity, cell migration, proliferation, and differentiation. Integrins also play a prominent role in tumor growth and metastasis. Translational research has tried to define the contribution of integrins to the phenotypic aggressiveness of melanoma because such knowledge is clinically useful. For example, differential expression of integrins in primary cutaneous melanoma can be used to distinguish indolent from aggressive, prometastatic melanoma. Recent studies have shown that gene expression–based testing of patient-derived melanoma tissue is feasible, and molecular tests may fully replace interventional surgical methods such as sentinel lymph node biopsies in the future. Because of their central role in mediating invasion and metastasis, integrins are likely to be useful biomarkers. Integrins are also attractive candidate targets for interventional therapy. This article focuses on the role of integrins in melanoma and highlights recent advances in the field of translational research.
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