Tracking cancer's signaling pathways

May 23, 2017, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Malignant melanoma is one of the most common and dangerous types of cancer. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) investigated how and why brown pigmented moles turn into malignant melanoma using innovative robot technology. The insights gained can simplify methods of diagnosis in the future; furthermore, they suggest that certain cosmetic products and creams should be avoided.

Until now, researchers only knew which were responsible for triggering the transformation of benign pigmented moles into malignant tumours. But little was known about what happens to proteins and signalling pathways when a malignant develops. The research group led by Prof. Dr. Andreas Baur at FAU's Translational Research Center (TRC) have now discovered that the ADAM10 signalling pathway is activated during the transformation. This pathway is a that passes the signal from one protein to the next, similar to chasing LED lights. This chain is normally inactive in healthy skin and is only activated in an immune response. It is known for its role in psoriasis, rosacea (a type of facial rash) and inflammation, i.e. when the immune system is activated but is also key in the development of malignant melanoma.

FAU researchers were able to demonstrate the significance of the ADAM10 signalling pathway with regard to the development of melanoma using a new kind of robot. The robot makes it possible to investigate development processes in skin samples at a cellular level. It uses anti-bodies marked with fluorochrome to stain tissue cell proteins. A camera takes a photo of the tissue samples. The fluorochrome is then bleached to destroy it, rendering the anti-body invisible. The robot applies another anti-body and the process is repeated. This method produces a sequence of different images of the same tissue sample that can be superimposed to reveal which proteins are active in which cells and where. Prior to the new technology, only one to four markers could be stained; the robot can now stain more than 100 proteins.

The insights gained will enable a better diagnosis of malignant melanoma in the future. 'This is especially important in borderline cases where it is difficult to make a clear decision whether a tumour is benign or malignant', says Baur. In the long term, the findings will enable a simplified, automated diagnosis of using staining robots. Additionally, the research suggests that and sun screen containing aluminium should be avoided, as aluminium ions can non-specifically activate the ADAM10 signalling that leads to melanoma.

The research results were published as a feature article in a special cancer edition of Science Signaling 10 in March 2017: "Multiepitope tissue analysis reveals SPPL3-mediated ADAM10 activation as a key step in the transformation of melanocytes".

Explore further: A new unexpected key player in melanoma development identified

More information: Christian Ostalecki et al, Multiepitope tissue analysis reveals SPPL3-mediated ADAM10 activation as a key step in the transformation of melanocytes, Science Signaling (2017). DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aai8288

Related Stories

A new unexpected key player in melanoma development identified

May 3, 2017
Identification and functional validation of proteins involved in tumorigenesis are essential steps toward advancing cancer precision medicine. In the Journal of Clinical Investigation researchers from VIB, KU Leuven (Belgium) ...

A method for the diagnosis and prognosis of melanoma, the most aggressive skin cancer, is patented

February 19, 2014
UPV/EHU researchers have developed a method for the diagnosis and prognosis of cutaneous melanoma, the type of skin cancer with the highest mortality rate.This method will help not only in the more effective early detection ...

Keeping skin cancer in check—how the environment influences the tumor

January 24, 2017
Malignant melanoma is the fastest-growing type of cancer and the most fatal skin disease. Sandra Iden and her team at the Cluster of Excellence on Aging Research (CECAD) at the University of Cologne investigated the influence ...

Expression of specific gene differentiates moles from melanoma

November 21, 2016
Most melanomas are driven by mutations that spur out-of-control cell replication, while nevi (moles composed of non-cancerous cells at the skin surface) harboring the same mutations do not grow wildly. However, changes in ...

Inherited mutation doubles the risk of death from malignant melanoma

June 14, 2016
People with malignant melanoma with an inherited mutation in a certain gene are twice as likely to die of the disease, according to a new study carried out by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Lund University in Sweden. ...

Recommended for you

A 150-year-old drug might improve radiation therapy for cancer

October 17, 2018
A drug first identified 150 years ago and used as a smooth-muscle relaxant might make tumors more sensitive to radiation therapy, according to a recent study led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer ...

Study involving hundreds of patient samples may reveal new treatment options of leukemia

October 17, 2018
After more than five years and 672 patient samples, an OHSU research team has published the largest cancer dataset of its kind for a form of leukemia. The study, "Functional Genomic Landscape of Acute Myeloid Leukemia", published ...

Loss of protein p53 helps cancer cells multiply in 'unfavourable' conditions

October 17, 2018
Researchers have discovered a novel consequence of loss of the tumour protein p53 that promotes cancer development, according to new findings in eLife.

New method uses just a drop of blood to monitor lung cancer treatment

October 17, 2018
Dr. Tasuku Honjo won the 2018 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discovering the immune T-cell protein PD-1. This discovery led to a set of anti-cancer medications called checkpoint inhibitors, one of the first of ...

Gene screening technique helps identify genes involved in a fatty liver-associated liver cancer

October 17, 2018
With an estimated twenty-thousand protein-coding genes in the human genome, pinpointing a specific gene or pathway responsible for a particular disease can be like finding a needle in the proverbial haystack. This has certainly ...

Scientists zero in on ways to boost colorectal cancer screening

October 17, 2018
A comprehensive analysis by University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers evaluated more than 70 clinical studies to identify some of the most effective methods for boosting U.S. colorectal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.