A Majority of Human Melanoma Cell Lines Exhibits an S Phase-Specific Defect in Excision of UV-Induced DNA Photoproducts
Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and AKT pathways are frequently co-activated in melanoma through overexpression of receptor tyrosine kinases, mutations in their signaling surrogates, such as RAS and BRAF, or loss of negative regulators such as PTEN. As RAS can be a positive upstream regulator of PI3-K, it has been proposed that the loss of PTEN and the activation of RAS are redundant events in melanoma pathogenesis. Here, in genetically engineered mouse models of cutaneous melanomas, we sought to better understand the genetic interactions between HRAS activation and PTEN inactivation in melanoma genesis and progression in vivo. We showed that HRAS activation cooperates with Pten+/− and Ink4a/Arf−/− to increase melanoma penetrance and promote metastasis. Correspondingly, gain- and loss-of-function studies established that Pten loss increases invasion and migration of melanoma cells and non-transformed melanocytes, and such biological activity correlates with a shift to phosphorylation of AKT2 isoform and E-cadherin down-regulation. Thus, Pten inactivation can drive the genesis and promote the metastatic progression of RAS activated Ink4a/Arf deficient melanomas.