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      Main roads to melanoma

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          Abstract

          The characterization of the molecular mechanisms involved in development and progression of melanoma could be helpful to identify the molecular profiles underlying aggressiveness, clinical behavior, and response to therapy as well as to better classify the subsets of melanoma patients with different prognosis and/or clinical outcome. Actually, some aspects regarding the main molecular changes responsible for the onset as well as the progression of melanoma toward a more aggressive phenotype have been described. Genes and molecules which control either cell proliferation, apoptosis, or cell senescence have been implicated. Here we provided an overview of the main molecular changes underlying the pathogenesis of melanoma. All evidence clearly indicates the existence of a complex molecular machinery that provides checks and balances in normal melanocytes. Progression from normal melanocytes to malignant metastatic cells in melanoma patients is the result of a combination of down- or up-regulation of various effectors acting on different molecular pathways.

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          Most cited references 216

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          Mutations of the BRAF gene in human cancer.

          Cancers arise owing to the accumulation of mutations in critical genes that alter normal programmes of cell proliferation, differentiation and death. As the first stage of a systematic genome-wide screen for these genes, we have prioritized for analysis signalling pathways in which at least one gene is mutated in human cancer. The RAS RAF MEK ERK MAP kinase pathway mediates cellular responses to growth signals. RAS is mutated to an oncogenic form in about 15% of human cancer. The three RAF genes code for cytoplasmic serine/threonine kinases that are regulated by binding RAS. Here we report BRAF somatic missense mutations in 66% of malignant melanomas and at lower frequency in a wide range of human cancers. All mutations are within the kinase domain, with a single substitution (V599E) accounting for 80%. Mutated BRAF proteins have elevated kinase activity and are transforming in NIH3T3 cells. Furthermore, RAS function is not required for the growth of cancer cell lines with the V599E mutation. As BRAF is a serine/threonine kinase that is commonly activated by somatic point mutation in human cancer, it may provide new therapeutic opportunities in malignant melanoma.
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            The phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase AKT pathway in human cancer.

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              Akt promotes cell survival by phosphorylating and inhibiting a Forkhead transcription factor.

              Survival factors can suppress apoptosis in a transcription-independent manner by activating the serine/ threonine kinase Akt, which then phosphorylates and inactivates components of the apoptotic machinery, including BAD and Caspase 9. In this study, we demonstrate that Akt also regulates the activity of FKHRL1, a member of the Forkhead family of transcription factors. In the presence of survival factors, Akt phosphorylates FKHRL1, leading to FKHRL1's association with 14-3-3 proteins and FKHRL1's retention in the cytoplasm. Survival factor withdrawal leads to FKHRL1 dephosphorylation, nuclear translocation, and target gene activation. Within the nucleus, FKHRL1 triggers apoptosis most likely by inducing the expression of genes that are critical for cell death, such as the Fas ligand gene.
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                Author and article information

                Affiliations
                [1]Istituto di Chimica Biomolecolare, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), Sassari, Italy
                [2]Istituto Nazionale Tumori "Fondazione Pascale", Napoli, Italy
                [3]Cell Processing Section, Department of Transfusion Medicine Clinical Center, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA
                Contributors
                Journal
                J Transl Med
                Journal of Translational Medicine
                BioMed Central
                1479-5876
                2009
                14 October 2009
                : 7
                : 86
                2770476
                1479-5876-7-86
                19828018
                10.1186/1479-5876-7-86
                Copyright © 2009 Palmieri et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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                Medicine

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