Changes in the body’s pigment-producing cells, where melanoma - the most dangerous form of skin cancer - takes hold are only part of the story, according to a new study by researchers from Oregon State University.
Other skin cells in what’s called the “microenvironment” of the cancer site also play a key role, scientists say.
These adjacent cells, which are called keratinocytes, are actually the driver for the changes and malignant transformation in the pigment-producing cells, which are called melanocytes,” said Arup Indra, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy.
“So there are two avenues - the pigment-producing cells where the cancer develops, and the adjacent skin cells which ‘talk to’ the pigment-producing cells in the form of signals,” Indra said. “They work in coordination, they are partners in crime.”
Research was done with both animal models and human samples, from individuals who carry a mutation in a gene called Cdk4, which is an inherited predisposition to melanoma that has turned up in families in Norway, France, Australia and England.
The study found that a protein called RXR-alpha in skin keratinocytes appears to protect pigment cells from damage, and prevent them from progressing to invasive melanoma.
This protein in skin cells sends chemical signals to the adjacent pigment cells, Indra said. The study revealed that these signals can, in effect, prevent or block the abnormal proliferation of pigment-producing cells in laboratory mice. Conversely, when the protein was removed or repressed, melanoma cells became aggressive and invaded the animals’ lymph nodes.
However, both the protective protein and pigment cells can suffer damage from chemical toxins or ultraviolet sunlight in the pigment cells, creating a “double-edged sword” in melanoma’s complex etiology, according to Indra.
To study melanoma cells in isolation from their surrounding biochemical and molecular environment is to miss the intricate series of related interactions that give rise to the disease, he said.
The finding could lead to promising new prevention tools down the road, Indra said.
“Better understanding this process will help us design new and novel strategies for prevention and, possibly, a cure,” Indra said. “This could be a predictive prognostic tool for discovering melanoma predisposition in humans. And that could lead to better and earlier diagnostics.”
This study was featured on the current cover of the journal Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
About the OSU College of Pharmacy: The College of Pharmacy prepares students of today to be the pharmacy practitioners and pharmaceutical sciences researchers of tomorrow by contributing to improved health, advancing patient care and the discovery and understanding of medicines.
Arup Indra | EurekAlert!
Nesting aids make agricultural fields attractive for bees
20.07.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
The Kitchen Sponge – Breeding Ground for Germs
20.07.2017 | Hochschule Furtwangen
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
20.07.2017 | Information Technology
20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy