[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer and advanced stages are invariably resistant to conventional therapeutic agents. Using bortezomib as a prototypic proteasome inhibitor, we have identified a novel and critical role of the proteasome in the maintenance of the malignant phenotype of melanoma cells that could have direct translational implications. Thus, melanoma cells from early, intermediate, and late stages of the disease could not sustain proteasome inhibition and underwent an effective activation of caspase-dependent and -independent death programs. This effect was tumor cell selective, because under similar conditions, normal melanocytes remained viable. Intriguingly, and despite of interfering with a cellular machinery in charge of controlling the half-life of the vast majority of cellular proteins, bortezomib did not promote a generalized disruption of melanoma-associated survival factors (including NF-kappaB, Bcl-2, Bcl-x(L), XIAP, TRAF-2, or FLIP). Instead, we identified a dramatic induction in vitro and in vivo of the BH3-only protein Noxa in melanoma cells (but not in normal melanocytes) in response to proteasome inhibition. RNA interference validated a critical role of Noxa for the cytotoxic effect of bortezomib. Notably, the proteasome-dependent regulation of Noxa was found to extend to other tumor types, and it could not be recapitulated by standard chemotherapeutic drugs. In summary, our results revealed Noxa as a new biomarker to gauge the efficacy of bortezomib specifically in tumor cells, and provide a new strategy to overcome tumor chemoresistance.
Cancer Research 08/2005; 65(14):6294-304. · 8.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer and is notoriously resistant to all current modalities of cancer therapy. A large set of genetic, functional and biochemical studies suggest that melanoma cells become 'bullet proof' against a variety of chemotherapeutic drugs by exploiting their intrinsic resistance to apoptosis and by reprogramming their proliferation and survival pathways during melanoma progression. In recent years, the identification of molecules involved in the regulation and execution of apoptosis, and their alteration in melanoma, have provided new insights into the molecular basis for melanoma chemoresistance. With this knowledge in hand, the challenge is now to devise strategies potent enough to compensate or bypass these cell death defects and improve the actual poor prognosis of patients at late stages of the disease.