MC1R Is a Potent Regulator of PTEN after UV Exposure in Melanocytes

“The individuals carrying melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) variants, especially those associated with red hair color, fair skin, and poor tanning ability (RHC trait), are more prone to melanoma; however, the underlying mechanism is poorly defined. Here, we report that UVB exposure triggers phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) interaction with wild-type (WT), but not RHC-associated MC1R variants, which protects PTEN from WWP2-mediated degradation, leading to AKT inactivation. Strikingly, the biological consequences of the failure of MC1R variants to suppress PI3K/AKT signaling are highly context dependent. In primary melanocytes, hyperactivation of PI3K/AKT signaling leads to premature senescence; in the presence of BRAFV600E, MC1R deficiency-induced elevated PI3K/AKT signaling drives oncogenic transformation. These studies establish the MC1R-PTEN axis as a central regulator for melanocytes’ response to UVB exposure and reveal the molecular basis underlying the association between MC1R variants and melanomagenesis.”

Another Option in Our KIT of Effective Therapies for Advanced Melanoma

“Hodi et al reported the final results of a multicenter phase II trial of imatinib in patients with advanced melanoma harboring mutations or amplification of the KIT proto-oncogene. KIT is a transmembrane receptor tyrosine kinase, normally expressed on melanocytes, that plays a critical role in melanocyte migration, survival, proliferation, and differentiation. Mutations and amplification of KIT have been identified in melanomas arising from mucosal, acral or chronically sun-damaged surfaces, and they characterize a distinct genetic subset of disease. The alterations identified are, in most instances, mutually exclusive of BRAF and NRAS mutations and lead to constitutive activation of downstream signaling pathways including the MAPK, PI3K/AKT, and JAK/STAT pathways.”

Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Variants Selectively Infect and Kill Human Melanomas but Not Normal Melanocytes

“Metastatic malignant melanoma remains one of the most therapeutically challenging forms of cancer. Here we test replication-competent vesicular stomatitis viruses (VSV) on 19 primary human melanoma samples and compare these infections with those of normal human melanocyte control cells. Even at a low viral concentration, we found a strong susceptibility to viral oncolysis in over 70% of melanomas. In contrast, melanocytes displayed strong resistance to virus infection and showed complete protection by interferon.”