Background: In our previous study, kindlin-2 promoted skin wound healing and decreased the permeability of neovascularization during angiogenesis. Herein, we explored the biological function and underlying mechanism of kindlin-2 in cutaneous melanoma.

Methods and Results: Through a series of in vitro assays, we found that high levels of kindlin-2 promoted migration and invasion of melanoma cells without influencing cell proliferation. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and western blot analyses showed that upregulated kindlin-2 promoted the cellular epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Importantly, we found that melanoma cells overexpressing kindlin-2 promoted angiogenesis and VEGFA secretion in vitro and facilitated tumour growth and lung metastasis in vivo. To unveil the underlying mechanism, we conducted Next-generation sequencing (NGS) and differential expression analyses. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analysis showed that overlapping differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were primarily enriched in the TGF-β, mTOR and VEGF signalling pathways. Then, we confirmed that the mTOR/VEGFA pathway was activated during the process of kindlin-2-induced melanoma progression and angiogenesis. Moreover, we demonstrated that kindlin-2 was significantly overexpressed in clinical melanoma samples and that a high level of kindlin-2 predicted a poor prognosis.

Conclusions: Taken together, these findings showed that kindlin-2 promotes angiogenesis and tumour progression via the mTOR/VEGFA pathway.