Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) is a master gene regulating differentiation of melanocytes, and a lineage survival oncogene mediating pro-proliferative function in malignant melanoma. However, high expression of MITF also has an anti-proliferative effect. To clarify the therapeutic implication of MITF as a molecular target for human melanoma, we evaluated the role of MITF in cell proliferation in a panel of human melanoma cell lines which express different levels of MITF. We found that both MITF depletion and forced expression of MITF significantly inhibited proliferation, suggesting that endogenous MITF is regulated at an appropriate level for melanoma cell proliferation, and could be a molecular target for melanoma. However, half of the melanoma cell lines in this study were relatively resistant to MITF depletion, indicating other treatment strategies are required for therapy. Our microarray analysis indicated that regulation of several cell growth-associated molecules may be independent of MITF and dependent on BRAFV600E. Thus to enhance the anti-proliferative effect of MITF down-regulation, we combined shRNA-mediated MITF depletion with BRAFV600E inactivation, another known molecular target for melanoma. Indeed, simultaneous depletion of both MITF and BRAFV600E significantly inhibited melanoma growth even for the melanoma cell lines resistant to MITF depletion. These results suggest MITF may be an important molecular target for human melanoma and simultaneous inhibition of MITF and MAPK signaling may be an attractive strategy for melanoma treatment. (Cancer Sci 2009; 100: 1863-1869).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research