Continuous expression of the MGSA/GROalpha, beta, or gamma chemokine bestows tumor-forming capacity to the immortalized murine melanocyte cell line, melan-a. The mechanism for this transformation is unclear, although both autocrine and paracrine processes are possible because melan-a cells as well as endothelial cells express a low level of the receptor for this ligand. To further define the role of MGSA/GRO proteins in melanocyte transformation, two types of experiments were designed to neutralize the biological effects of MGSA/GRO in the transfected melan-a clones: (1) the effect of neutralizing antiserum to MGSA/GRO proteins on melan-a tumor growth was assessed; (2) the tumor-forming capacity of melan-a clones expressing ELR motif-mutated forms of MGSA/GRO with compromised receptor affinity was compared to the tumor-forming capacity of clones expressing wild-type MGSA/GRO. These experiments revealed that SCID mice inoculated with MGSA/GROalpha- or gamma-expressing melan-a cells and subsequently treated with antiserum to the respective chemokine exhibited decreased tumor growth. This reduction in tumor growth was accompanied by declining angiogenic activity in MGSA/GROgamma-expressing tumors. Moreover, athymic nude mice injected with melan-a cells expressing ELR-mutant forms of MGSA/GROalpha exhibited markedly impaired tumor-forming capacity compared with those mice injected with melan-a clones expressing wild-type MGSA/GRO. These data suggest that continuous expression of MGSA/GRO proteins may facilitate tumor growth by stimulating the growth of microvessels into the tumor (paracrine) and by affecting melanocyte growth (autocrine).