Open Access
Genetics, cellular biology and tumor microenvironment of melanoma
Sydney Ch'ng1,Swee Thong Tan1
Wellington Regional Plastic, Maxillofacial and Burns Unit, Hutt Hospital, Wellington, New Zealand
DOI: 10.2741/3286 Volume 14 Issue 3, pp.918-928
Published: 01 January 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genetics and repair in cancer)

Melanoma is an aggressive disease for which there is no effective curative treatment beyond surgical excision of the primary lesion and regional disease. Epidemiological, clinical, in vitro and in vivo studies have provided insight into the biology of the disease. This review focuses on current understanding of key molecular pathways, cellular interaction and tumor microenvironment, and the respective aberrations identified in melanoma. Common mutations and/or deregulated expressions of B-raf, N-ras, PTEN, protein kinase B (aka Akt), CDKN2A, CDK4 and MDM2 were presented. In addition to genetic abnormalities, important aspects of cellular biology including, (i) the loss of cell-cell adhesion resulting in an altered state in the relative expression of cadherins, catenins and integrins, (ii) the interaction between melanoma cells and surrounding keratinocytes, fibroblasts, and immune cells, and (iii) tumor angiogenesis and vascular mimicry, are discussed. Many ongoing clinical trials of targeted biological therapies are based on current knowledge, the outcomes are eagerly awaited.

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Sydney Ch'ng, Swee Thong Tan. Genetics, cellular biology and tumor microenvironment of melanoma. Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark. 2009. 14(3); 918-928.