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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Human melanoma cell lines show little relationship between expression of pigmentation genes and pigmentary behaviour in vitro.

Several laboratories are pursuing the question of whether the expression of pigment genes can be used as a useful marker for tumour progression. However, many melanoma tumours are amelanotic in vivo. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the expression of tyrosinase-related genes [tyrosinase, tyrosinase-related protein-1 ( TRP-1) and tyrosinase-related protein-2 ( TRP-2)] and pigmentation of melanoma cells. Fourteen cutaneous melanoma cell lines were examined for visible pigment, melanin content, and dopa oxidase activity and findings were related to the previously determined expression of the three tyrosinase-related genes in these cells in culture. Four of the cell lines were also stimulated with alpha-MSH, isobutylmethylxanthine, and forskolin to examine the relationship between induced pigmentation and upregulation of pigmentation genes. There was no simple correlation between pigmentation gene expression and dopa oxidase activity or total melanin content of the 14 melanoma cell lines in culture. In the majority of cells, there was no appreciable pigment, whereas, in contrast, half of the cells showed significant dopa oxidase activity. Upregulation of dopa oxidase activity was achieved by alpha-MSH in two out of four cell lines examined in detail and with IBMX in three out of four of these cell lines. IBMX increased tyrosinase gene expression in all four cell lines; alpha-MSH was without effect; and TRP-1 and TRP-2 expression were largely unaffected by IBMX or alpha-MSH. Modest changes in morphology were noted in response to IBMX. Overall, however, human melanoma cell lines were, with two exceptions, amelanotic in culture despite the fact that 10 out of the 14 lines expressed tyrosinase-related genes. We conclude that measurable pigmentation is not a necessary consequence of the expression of pigmentation genes. An implication of this work is that amelanotic tumours in vivo may nevertheless be positive for tyrosinase-related genes.[1]


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