Open Access
Mechanisms of induction of skin cancer by UV radiation
H Soehnge1,A Ouhtit1,O N Ananthaswamy1
Department of Immunology, The University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Box 178, Houston, TX 77030, USA
DOI: 10.2741/A211 Volume 2 Issue 4, pp.538-551
Published: 01 November 1997

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the carcinogenic factor in sunlight; damage to skin cells from repeated exposure can lead to the development of cancer. UV radiation has been mainly implicated as the cause of non-melanoma skin cancer, although some role for UV in malignant melanoma has been suggested. The induction of skin cancer is mainly caused by the accumulation of mutations caused by UV damage. Cellular mechanisms exist to repair the DNA damage, or to induce apoptosis to remove severely damaged cells; however, the additive effects of mutations in genes involved in these mechanisms, or in control of the cell cycle, can lead to abnormal cell proliferation and tumor development. The molecular events in the induction of skin cancer are being actively investigated, and recent research has added to the understanding of the roles of tumor suppressor and oncogenes in skin cancer. UV radiation has been shown to induce the expression of the p53 tumor suppressor gene, and is known to produce "signature" mutations in p53 in human and mouse skin cancers and in the tumor suppressor gene patched in human basal cell carcinoma. The role of UV radiation in suppression of immune surveillance in the skin, which is an important protection against skin tumor development, is also being investigated. The knowledge gained will help to better understand the ways in which skin cancer arises from UV exposure, which will in turn allow development of better methods of treatment and prevention.

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H Soehnge, A Ouhtit, O N Ananthaswamy. Mechanisms of induction of skin cancer by UV radiation. Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark. 1997. 2(4); 538-551.