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Dermatology - Molecular Biology - Oncology

Selective Induction of Cell Death in Melanoma Cell Lines through Targeting of Mcl-1 and A1
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Author: Daniela Senft et al.

by Daniela Senft, Carola Berking, Saskia A. Graf, Claudia Kammerbauer, Thomas Ruzicka, Robert Besch

Melanoma is an often fatal form of skin cancer which is remarkably resistant against radio- and chemotherapy. Even new strategies that target RAS/RAF signaling and display unprecedented efficacy are characterized by resistance mechanisms. The targeting of survival pathways would be an attractive alternative strategy, if tumor-specific cell death can be achieved. Bcl-2 proteins play a central role in regulating survival of tumor cells. In this study, we systematically investigated the relevance of antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins, i.e., Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, Bcl-w, Mcl-1, and A1, in melanoma cell lines and non-malignant cells using RNAi. We found that melanoma cells required the presence of specific antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins: Inhibition of Mcl-1 and A1 strongly induced cell death in some melanoma cell lines, whereas non-malignant cells, i.e., primary human fibroblasts or keratinocytes were not affected. This specific sensitivity of melanoma cells was further enhanced by the combined inhibition of Mcl-1 and A1 and resulted in 60% to 80% cell death in all melanoma cell lines tested. This treatment was successfully combined with chemotherapy, which killed a substantial proportion of cells that survived Mcl-1 and A1 inhibition. Together, these results identify antiapoptotic proteins on which specifically melanoma cells rely on and, thus, provide a basis for the development of new Bcl-2 protein-targeting therapies.