BACKGROUNDThe Odontogenic Ameloblast-associated Protein (ODAM) is expressed in a wide range of normal epithelial, and neoplastic tissues, and we have posited that ODAM serves as a novel prognostic biomarker for breast cancer and melanoma. Transfection of ODAM into breast cancer cells yields suppression of cellular growth, motility, and in vivo tumorigenicity. Herein we have extended these studies to the effects of ODAM on cultured melanoma cell lines.METHODSThe A375 and C8161 melanoma cell lines were stably transfected with ODAM and assayed for properties associated with tumorigenicity including cell growth, motility, and extracellular matrix adhesion. In addition, ODAM-transfected cells were assayed for signal transduction via AKT which promotes cell proliferation and survival in many neoplasms.RESULTSODAM expression in A375 and C8161 cells strongly inhibited cell growth and motility in vitro, increased cell adhesion to extracellular matrix, and yielded significant cytoskeletal/morphologic rearrangement. Furthermore, AKT activity was downregulated by ODAM expression while an increase was noted in expression of the PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog on chromosome 10) tumor suppressor gene, an antagonist of AKT activation. Increased PTEN in ODAM-expressing cells was associated with increases in PTEN mRNA levels and de novo protein synthesis. Silencing of PTEN expression yielded recovery of AKT activity in ODAM-expressing melanoma cells. Similar PTEN elevation and inhibition of AKT by ODAM was observed in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells while ODAM expression had no effect in PTEN-deficient BT-549 breast cancer cells.CONCLUSIONSThe apparent anti-neoplastic effects of ODAM in cultured melanoma and breast cancer cells are associated with increased PTEN expression, and suppression of AKT activity. This association should serve to clarify the clinical import of ODAM expression and any role it may serve as an indicator of tumor behavior.