Cancer Lett. 2018 Nov 13. pii: S0304-3835(18)30673-6. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2018.11.009.

DNp73-induced degradation of tyrosinase links depigmentation with EMT-driven melanoma progression.

Fürst K, Steder M, Logotheti S, Angerilli A, Spitschak A, Marquardt S, Schumacher T, Engelmann D, Herchenröder O, Rupp RAW, Pützer BM.
Melanoma is an aggressive cancer with poor prognosis, requiring personalized management of advanced stages and establishment of molecular markers. Melanomas derive from melanocytes, which specifically express tyrosinase, the rate-limiting enzyme of melanin-synthesis. We demonstrate that melanomas with high levels of DNp73, a cancer-specific variant of the p53 family member p73 and driver of melanoma progression show, in contrast to their less-aggressive low-DNp73 counterparts, hypopigmentation in vivo. Mechanistically, reduced melanin-synthesis is mediated by a DNp73-activated IGF1R/PI3K/AKT axis leading to tyrosinase ER-arrest and proteasomal degradation. Tyrosinase loss triggers reactivation of the EMT signaling cascade, a mesenchymal-like cell phenotype and increased invasiveness. DNp73-induced depigmentation, Slug increase and changes in cell motility are recapitulated in neural crest-derived melanophores of Xenopus embryos, underscoring a previously unnoticed physiological role of tyrosinase as EMT inhibitor. This data provides a mechanism of hypopigmentation accompanying cancer progression, which can be exploited in precision diagnosis of patients with melanoma-associated hypopigmentation (MAH), currently seen as a favorable prognostic factor. The DNp73/IGF1R/Slug signature in colorless lesions might aid to clinically discriminate between patients with MAH-associated metastatic disease and those, where MAH is indeed a sign of regression.
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