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It is widely held that cells with metastatic properties such as invasiveness and expression of matrix metalloproteinases arise through the stepwise accumulation of genetic lesions arising from genetic instability and "clonal evolution." By contrast, we show here that in melanomas invasiveness can be regulated epigenetically by the microphthalmia-associated(More)
Tumor progression is a multistep process in which proproliferation mutations must be accompanied by suppression of senescence. In melanoma, proproliferative signals are provided by activating mutations in NRAS and BRAF, whereas senescence is bypassed by inactivation of the p16(Ink4a) gene. Melanomas also frequently exhibit constitutive activation of the(More)
Perhaps the most obvious manifestation of the complex interplay between environmental cues, signal transduction pathways, and transcription factors underlying the genesis and differentiation of a cell lineage is provided by the enormous diversity of genetically determined pigmentation patterns. Because melanocytes, the cells responsible for skin, hair, and(More)
Tumours comprise multiple phenotypically distinct subpopulations of cells, some of which are proposed to possess stem cell-like properties, being able to self-renew, seed and maintain tumours, and provide a reservoir of therapeutically resistant cells. Here, we use melanoma as a model to explore the validity of the cancer stem cell hypothesis in the light(More)
How melanoma acquire a metastatic phenotype is a key issue. One possible mechanism is that metastasis is driven by microenvironment-induced switching between noninvasive and invasive states. However, whether switching is a reversible or hierarchical process is not known and is difficult to assess by comparison of primary and metastatic tumors. We address(More)
Increased expression of the Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) contributes to melanoma progression and resistance to BRAF pathway inhibition. Here we show that the lack of MITF is associated with more severe resistance to a range of inhibitors, while its presence is required for robust drug responses. Both in primary and acquired(More)
The T-box transcription factors Tbx2 and Tbx3 are overexpressed in many cancers and in melanoma promote proliferation by actively suppressing senescence. Whether they also contribute to tumor progression via other mechanisms is not known. Here, we identify a novel role for these factors, providing evidence that Tbx3, and potentially Tbx2, directly repress(More)
The tyrosinase gene is expressed specifically in melanocytes and the cells of the retinal pigment epithelium, which together are responsible for skin, hair, and eye color. By using a combination of DNase I footprinting and band shift assays coupled with mutagenesis of specific DNA elements, we examined the requirements for melanocyte-specific expression of(More)
The stress-activated signalling cascade leading to phosphorylation of the p38 family of kinases plays a crucial role during development and in the cellular response to a wide variety of stress-inducing agents. Although alterations in gene expression characteristic of the stress response require the regulation of key transcription factors by the p38 family,(More)
The INK4a and ARF genes found at the CDKN2A locus are key effectors of cellular senescence that is believed to act as a powerful anticancer mechanism. Accordingly, mutations in these genes are present in a wide variety of spontaneous human cancers and CDKN2A germ line mutations are found in familial melanoma. The TBX2 gene encoding a key developmental(More)