Craig Carson

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, United States

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Publications (6)46.03 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: A systems biology approach was applied to investigate the mechanisms of chromosomal instability in melanoma cell lines. Chromosomal instability was quantified using array comparative genomic hybridization to identify somatic copy number alterations (deletions and duplications). Primary human melanocytes displayed an average of 8.5 alterations per cell primarily representing known polymorphisms. Melanoma cell lines displayed 25 to 131 alterations per cell, with an average of 68, indicative of chromosomal instability. Copy number alterations included approximately equal numbers of deletions and duplications with greater numbers of hemizygous (-1,+1) alterations than homozygous (-2,+2). Melanoma oncogenes, such as BRAF and MITF, and tumor suppressor genes, such as CDKN2A/B and PTEN, were included in these alterations. Duplications and deletions were functional as there were significant correlations between DNA copy number and mRNA expression for these genes. Spectral karyotype analysis of three lines confirmed extensive chromosomal instability with polyploidy, aneuploidy, deletions, duplications, and chromosome rearrangements. Bioinformatic analysis identified a signature of gene expression that was correlated with chromosomal instability but this signature provided no clues to the mechanisms of instability. The signature failed to generate a significant (P = 0.105) prediction of melanoma progression in a separate dataset. Chromosomal instability was not correlated with elements of DNA damage response (DDR) such as radiosensitivity, nucleotide excision repair, expression of the DDR biomarkers γH2AX and P-CHEK2, nor G1 or G2 checkpoint function. Chromosomal instability in melanoma cell lines appears to influence gene function but it is not simply explained by alterations in the system of DDR. Environ. Mol. Mutagen., 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis 02/2014; · 3.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Metastatic melanoma is one of the most aggressive forms of cutaneous cancers. Although recent therapeutic advances have prolonged patient survival, the prognosis remains dismal. C-MER proto-oncogene tyrosine kinase (MERTK) is a receptor tyrosine kinase with oncogenic properties that is often overexpressed or activated in various malignancies. Using both protein immunohistochemistry and microarray analyses, we demonstrate that MERTK expression correlates with disease progression. MERTK expression was highest in metastatic melanomas, followed by primary melanomas, while the lowest expression was observed in nevi. Additionally, over half of melanoma cell lines overexpressed MERTK compared with normal human melanocytes; however, overexpression did not correlate with mutations in BRAF or RAS. Stimulation of melanoma cells with the MERTK ligand GAS6 resulted in the activation of several downstream signaling pathways including MAPK/ERK, PI3K/AKT, and JAK/STAT. MERTK inhibition via shRNA reduced MERTK-mediated downstream signaling, reduced colony formation by up to 59%, and diminished tumor volume by 60% in a human melanoma murine xenograft model. Treatment of melanoma cells with UNC1062, a novel MERTK-selective small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, reduced activation of MERTK-mediated downstream signaling, induced apoptosis in culture, reduced colony formation in soft agar, and inhibited invasion of melanoma cells. This work establishes MERTK as a therapeutic target in melanoma and provides a rationale for the continued development of MERTK-targeted therapies.
    The Journal of clinical investigation 04/2013; · 15.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: As DNA damage checkpoints are barriers to carcinogenesis, G 2 checkpoint function was quantified to test for override of this checkpoint during melanomagenesis. Primary melanocytes displayed an effective G 2 checkpoint response to ionizing radiation (IR)-induced DNA damage. Thirty-seven percent of melanoma cell lines displayed a significant defect in G 2 checkpoint function. Checkpoint function was melanoma subtype-specific with "epithelial-like" melanoma lines, with wild type NRAS and BRAF displaying an effective checkpoint, while lines with mutant NRAS and BRAF displayed defective checkpoint function. Expression of oncogenic B-Raf in a checkpoint-effective melanoma attenuated G 2 checkpoint function significantly but modestly. Other alterations must be needed to produce the severe attenuation of G 2 checkpoint function seen in some BRAF-mutant melanoma lines. Quantitative trait analysis tools identified mRNA species whose expression was correlated with G 2 checkpoint function in the melanoma lines. A 165 gene signature was identified with a high correlation with checkpoint function (p < 0.004) and low false discovery rate (≤ 0.077). The G 2 checkpoint gene signature predicted G 2 checkpoint function with 77-94% accuracy. The signature was enriched in lysosomal genes and contained numerous genes that are associated with regulation of chromatin structure and cell cycle progression. The core machinery of the cell cycle was not altered in checkpoint-defective lines but rather numerous mediators of core machinery function were. When applied to an independent series of primary melanomas, the predictive G 2 checkpoint signature was prognostic of distant metastasis-free survival. These results emphasize the value of expression profiling of primary melanomas for understanding melanoma biology and disease prognosis.
    Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) 03/2013; 12(7). · 5.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Melanoma cell lines and normal human melanocytes (NHM) were assayed for p53-dependent G1 checkpoint response to ionizing radiation (IR)-induced DNA damage. Sixty-six percent of melanoma cell lines displayed a defective G1 checkpoint. Checkpoint function was correlated with sensitivity to IR with checkpoint-defective lines being radio-resistant. Microarray analysis identified 316 probes whose expression was correlated with G1 checkpoint function in melanoma lines (P≤0.007) including p53 transactivation targets CDKN1A, DDB2, and RRM2B. The 316 probe list predicted G1 checkpoint function of the melanoma lines with 86% accuracy using a binary analysis and 91% accuracy using a continuous analysis. When applied to microarray data from primary melanomas, the 316 probe list was prognostic of 4-yr distant metastasis-free survival. Thus, p53 function, radio-sensitivity, and metastatic spread may be estimated in melanomas from a signature of gene expression.
    Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research 04/2012; 25(4):514-26. · 5.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Metastases are the major cause of death from melanoma, a skin cancer that has the fastest rising incidence of any malignancy in the Western world. Molecular pathways that drive melanoblast migration in development are believed to underpin the movement and ultimately the metastasis of melanoma. Here we show that mice lacking P-Rex1, a Rac-specific Rho GTPase guanine nucleotide exchange factor, have a melanoblast migration defect during development evidenced by a white belly. Moreover, these P-Rex1(-/-) mice are resistant to metastasis when crossed to a murine model of melanoma. Mechanistically, this is associated with P-Rex1 driving invasion in a Rac-dependent manner. P-Rex1 is elevated in the majority of human melanoma cell lines and tumour tissue. We conclude that P-Rex1 has an important role in melanoblast migration and cancer progression to metastasis in mice and humans.
    Nature Communications 11/2011; 2:555. · 10.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: DNA methylation, an epigenetic alteration typically occurring early in cancer development, could aid in the molecular diagnosis of melanoma. We determined technical feasibility for high-throughput DNA-methylation array-based profiling using formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues for selection of candidate DNA-methylation differences between melanomas and nevi. Promoter methylation was evaluated in 27 common benign nevi and 22 primary invasive melanomas using a 1505 CpG site microarray. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering distinguished melanomas from nevi; 26 CpG sites in 22 genes were identified with significantly different methylation levels between melanomas and nevi after adjustment for age, sex, and multiple comparisons and with β-value differences of ≥ 0.2. Prediction analysis for microarrays identified 12 CpG loci that were highly predictive of melanoma, with area under the receiver operating characteristic curves of > 0.95. Of our panel of 22 genes, 14 were statistically significant in an independent sample set of 29 nevi (including dysplastic nevi) and 25 primary invasive melanomas after adjustment for age, sex, and multiple comparisons. This first report of a DNA-methylation signature discriminating melanomas from nevi indicates that DNA methylation appears promising as an additional tool for enhancing melanoma diagnosis.
    Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research 01/2011; 24(2):352-60. · 5.84 Impact Factor