Melanoma cells can adopt the phenotype of stromal fibroblasts and macrophages by spontaneous cell fusion in vitro

Lajos Kemény, Zsuzsanna Kurgyis, Tünde Buknicz, Gergely Groma, Jakab, Kurt Zänker, Thomas Dittmar, István B. Németh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


After the removal of primary cutaneous melanoma some patients develop local recurrences, even after having histologically tumor-free re-excision. A potential explanation behind this phenomenon is that tumor cells switch their phenotype, making their recognition via standard histopathological assessments extremely difficult. Tumor-stromal cell fusion has been proposed as a potential mechanism for tumor cells to acquire mesenchymal traits; therefore, we hypothesized that melanoma cells could acquire fibroblast- and macrophage-like phenotypes via cell fusion. We show that melanoma cells spontaneously fuse with human dermal fibroblasts and human peripheral blood monocytes in vitro. The hybrid cells’ nuclei contain chromosomes from both parental cells and are indistinguishable from the parental fibroblasts or macrophages based on their morphology and immunophenotype, as they could lose the melanoma specific MART1 marker, but express the fibroblast marker smooth muscle actin or the macrophage marker CD68. Our results suggest that, by spontaneous cell fusion in vitro, tumor cells can adopt the morphology and immunophenotype of stromal cells while still carrying oncogenic, tumor-derived genetic information. Therefore, melanoma-stromal cell fusion might play a role in missing tumor cells by routine histopathological assessments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number826
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Cell fusion
  • Fibroblast
  • Macrophage
  • Spontaneous melanoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Melanoma cells can adopt the phenotype of stromal fibroblasts and macrophages by spontaneous cell fusion in vitro'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this