Gene Summary

Gene:MC1R; melanocortin 1 receptor
Aliases: CMM5, MSH-R, SHEP2
Summary:This intronless gene encodes the receptor protein for melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). The encoded protein, a seven pass transmembrane G protein coupled receptor, controls melanogenesis. Two types of melanin exist: red pheomelanin and black eumelanin. Gene mutations that lead to a loss in function are associated with increased pheomelanin production, which leads to lighter skin and hair color. Eumelanin is photoprotective but pheomelanin may contribute to UV-induced skin damage by generating free radicals upon UV radiation. Binding of MSH to its receptor activates the receptor and stimulates eumelanin synthesis. This receptor is a major determining factor in sun sensitivity and is a genetic risk factor for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Over 30 variant alleles have been identified which correlate with skin and hair color, providing evidence that this gene is an important component in determining normal human pigment variation. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:melanocyte-stimulating hormone receptor
Source:NCBIAccessed: 31 August, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 31 August 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 31 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (3)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: MC1R (cancer-related)

Moy L, Lyons AB, Fox W, et al.
Non-Invasive Buccal Swab Gene Testing for Skin Cancer Risk
J Drugs Dermatol. 2019; 18(5):448-453 [PubMed] Related Publications
Background: Studies have identified numerous genetic polymorphisms associated with increased risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC). In this pilot study, we aimed to examine whether previously identified melanoma and non-melanoma associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) which were found to be associated with cutaneous malignancy were also present in a relatively heterogeneous population with a history of skin cancer versus an age and environmental matched controls. The undertaking of this project serves to further the current understanding of the genetic profile for those at higher risk for developing skin cancer. Methods: Nineteen NMSC patients and their age-matched and environmental controls underwent genotyping of 7 previously discovered SNPs associated with melanoma and NMSC. Results: In a random, heterogeneous population in Southern California, SNP’s Chr1, PAD16, PIGU, TDG had a similar association with NMSC previously reported in prior studies. Due to small trial size, no conclusions or observable associations could be drawn from the SNPs MC1R, TP53, and XRCC1. Conclusion: This data supports that 4 of the 7 SNP’s studied had similar associations and could potentially be predictive tool of NMSC risk in this patient population. The remaining three SNP’s did not have a definitive association with malignancy. Larger studies are needed to further elucidate the specific roles of these SNPs collectively and ultimately to develop a genetic profile for those patients at increased risk of developing skin cancer. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019;18(5):448-453.

Chen S, Han C, Miao X, et al.
Targeting MC1R depalmitoylation to prevent melanomagenesis in redheads.
Nat Commun. 2019; 10(1):877 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Some genetic melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) variants responsible for human red hair color (RHC-variants) are consequently associated with increased melanoma risk. Although MC1R signaling is critically dependent on its palmitoylation primarily mediated by the ZDHHC13 protein-acyl transferase, whether increasing MC1R palmitoylation represents a viable therapeutic target to limit melanomagenesis in redheads is unknown. Here we identify a specific and efficient in vivo strategy to induce MC1R palmitoylation for therapeutic benefit. We validate the importance of ZDHHC13 to MC1R signaling in vivo by targeted expression of ZDHHC13 in C57BL/6J-MC1R

Potjer TP, Bollen S, Grimbergen AJEM, et al.
Multigene panel sequencing of established and candidate melanoma susceptibility genes in a large cohort of Dutch non-CDKN2A/CDK4 melanoma families.
Int J Cancer. 2019; 144(10):2453-2464 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Germline mutations in the major melanoma susceptibility gene CDKN2A explain genetic predisposition in only 10-40% of melanoma-prone families. In our study we comprehensively characterized 488 melanoma cases from 451 non-CDKN2A/CDK4 families for mutations in 30 established and candidate melanoma susceptibility genes using a custom-designed targeted gene panel approach. We identified (likely) pathogenic variants in established melanoma susceptibility genes in 18 families (n = 3 BAP1, n = 15 MITF p.E318K; diagnostic yield 4.0%). Among the three identified BAP1-families, there were no reported diagnoses of uveal melanoma or malignant mesothelioma. We additionally identified two potentially deleterious missense variants in the telomere maintenance genes ACD and TERF2IP, but none in the POT1 gene. MC1R risk variants were strongly enriched in our familial melanoma cohort compared to healthy controls (R variants: OR 3.67, 95% CI 2.88-4.68, p <0.001). Several variants of interest were also identified in candidate melanoma susceptibility genes, in particular rare (pathogenic) variants in the albinism gene OCA2 were repeatedly found. We conclude that multigene panel testing for familial melanoma is appropriate considering the additional 4% diagnostic yield in non-CDKN2A/CDK4 families. Our study shows that BAP1 and MITF are important genes to be included in such a diagnostic test.

Budden T, Bowden NA
MC1R CpG island regulates MC1R expression and is methylated in a subset of melanoma tumours.
Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2019; 32(2):320-325 [PubMed] Related Publications
Melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) is a G protein-coupled receptor expressed in melanocytes where it plays an important role in skin pigmentation and in the UV response, and has implications in melanoma development. Here we show that methylation of a CpG island (CGI) within the MC1R gene can control expression of MC1R in melanoma. This CGI overlaps with a potential enhancer region, and is unmethylated in normal melanocytes but highly methylated in other skin cells, suggesting a melanocyte specific function. Analysis showed that MC1R was the only gene significantly differentially expressed by methylation of this region. Within several data sets, this region is methylated in a subset of melanoma tumours (55%-74% of tumours) and results in reduced MC1R expression and significantly longer overall survival.

Swope VB, Abdel-Malek ZA
MC1R: Front and Center in the Bright Side of Dark Eumelanin and DNA Repair.
Int J Mol Sci. 2018; 19(9) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Melanin, the pigment produced by specialized cells, melanocytes, is responsible for skin and hair color. Skin pigmentation is an important protective mechanism against the DNA damaging and mutagenic effects of solar ultraviolet radiation (UV). It is acknowledged that exposure to UV is the main etiological environmental factor for all forms of skin cancer, including melanoma. DNA repair capacity is another major factor that determines the risk for skin cancer. Human melanocytes synthesize eumelanin, the dark brown form of melanin, as well as pheomelanin, which is reddish-yellow in color. The relative rates of eumelanin and pheomelanin synthesis by melanocytes determine skin color and the sensitivity of skin to the drastic effects of solar UV. Understanding the complex regulation of melanocyte function and how it responds to solar UV has a huge impact on developing novel photoprotective strategies to prevent skin cancer, particularly melanoma, the most fatal form, which originates from melanocytes. This review provides an overview of the known differences in the photoprotective effects of eumelanin versus pheomelanin, how these two forms of melanin are regulated genetically and biochemically, and their impact on the DNA damaging effects of UV exposure. Additionally, this review briefly discusses the role of paracrine factors, focusing on α-melanocortin (α-melanocyte stimulating hormone; α-MSH), in regulating melanogenesis and the response of melanocytes to UV, and describes a chemoprevention strategy based on targeting the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) by analogs of its physiological agonist α-MSH.

Cust AE, Mishra K, Berwick M
Melanoma - role of the environment and genetics.
Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2018; 17(12):1853-1860 [PubMed] Related Publications
Melanoma rates have increased in populations that are mainly European. The main etiologic factor is ultraviolet radiation, from the sun as well as artificial tanning devices. Host factors such as skin color, number of nevi, hair and eye color and tanning ability are critical factors in modifying an individual's response to the sun. Genetic factors interact with host factors and environmental factors to increase risk. This review summarizes our current knowledge of environment and genetics on melanoma risk and on gene-environment interaction.

Joshi AD, Li X, Kraft P, Han J
Hierarchical modeling of melanocortin 1 receptor variants with skin cancer risk.
Genet Epidemiol. 2018; 42(6):571-586 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
The human MC1R gene is highly polymorphic among lightly pigmented populations, and several variants in the MC1R gene have been associated with increased risk of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers. The functional consequences of MC1R gene variants have been studied in vitro and in vivo in postulated causal pathways, such as G-protein-coupled signaling transduction, pigmentation, immune response, inflammatory response, cell proliferation, and extracellular matrix adhesion. In a case-control study nested within the Nurses' Health Study, we utilized hierarchical modeling approaches, incorporating quantitative information from these functional studies, to examine the association between particular MC1R alleles and the risk of skin cancers. Different prior matrices were constructed according to the phenotypic associations in controls, cell surface expression, and enzymatic kinetics. Our results showed the parameter variance estimates of each single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) were smaller when using a hierarchical modeling approach compared to standard multivariable regression. Estimates of second-level parameters gave information about the relative importance of MC1R effects on different pathways, and odds ratio estimates changed depending on prior models (e.g., the change ranged from -21% to 7% for melanoma risk assessment). In addition, the estimates of prior model hyperparameters in the hierarchical modeling approach allow us to determine the relevance of individual pathways on the risk of each of the skin cancer types. In conclusion, hierarchical modeling provides a useful analytic approach in addition to the widely used conventional models in genetic association studies that can incorporate measures of allelic function.

Karagianni F, Njauw CN, Kypreou KP, et al.
CDKN2A/CDK4 Status in Greek Patients with Familial Melanoma and Association with Clinico-epidemiological Parameters.
Acta Derm Venereol. 2018; 98(9):862-866 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Approximately 5-10% of melanoma cases occur in a familial context. CDKN2A/CDK4 were the first high-penetrance melanoma genes identified. The aims of this study were to evaluate CDKN2A/CDK4 variants in Greek familial melanoma patients and to correlate the mutational status with specific clinico-epidemiological characteristics. A cross-sectional study was conducted by genotyping CDKN2A/CDK4 variants and selected MC1R polymorphisms in 52 melanoma-prone families. Descriptive statistics were calculated and comparisons were made using the χ2 test, Fisher's exact test and Student's t-test for statistical analysis, as appropriate. CDKN2A variants were detected in 46.2% of melanoma-prone families, while a CDK4 variant was found in only one family. This study confirmed that, in the Greek population, the age at melanoma diagnosis was lower in patients carrying a variant in CDKN2A compared with wild-type patients. No statistically significant associations were found between CDKN2A mutational status and MC1R polymorphisms.

Castejón-Griñán M, Herraiz C, Olivares C, et al.
cAMP-independent non-pigmentary actions of variant melanocortin 1 receptor: AKT-mediated activation of protective responses to oxidative DNA damage.
Oncogene. 2018; 37(27):3631-3646 [PubMed] Related Publications
The melanocortin 1 receptor gene (MC1R), a well-established melanoma susceptibility gene, regulates the amount and type of melanin pigments formed within epidermal melanocytes. MC1R variants associated with increased melanoma risk promote the production of photosensitizing pheomelanins as opposed to photoprotective eumelanins. Wild-type (WT) MC1R activates DNA repair and antioxidant defenses in a cAMP-dependent fashion. Since melanoma-associated MC1R variants are hypomorphic in cAMP signaling, these non-pigmentary actions are thought to be defective in MC1R-variant human melanoma cells and epidermal melanocytes, consistent with a higher mutation load in MC1R-variant melanomas. We compared induction of antioxidant enzymes and DNA damage responses in melanocytic cells of defined MC1R genotype. Increased expression of catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) genes following MC1R activation was cAMP-dependent and required a WT MC1R genotype. Conversely, pretreatment of melanocytic cells with an MC1R agonist before an oxidative challenge with Luperox decreased (i) accumulation of 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanine, a major product of oxidative DNA damage, (ii) phosphorylation of histone H2AX, a marker of DNA double-strand breaks, and (iii) formation of DNA breaks. These responses were comparable in cells WT for MC1R or harboring hypomorphic MC1R variants without detectable cAMP signaling. In MC1R-variant melanocytic cells, the DNA-protective responses were mediated by AKT. Conversely, in MC1R-WT melanocytic cells, high cAMP production downstream of MC1R blocked AKT activation and was responsible for inducing DNA repair. Accordingly, MC1R activation could promote repair of oxidative DNA damage by a cAMP-dependent pathway downstream of WT receptor, or via AKT in cells of variant MC1R genotype.

Nair-Shalliker V, Egger S, Chrzanowska A, et al.
Associations between sun sensitive pigmentary genes and serum prostate specific antigen levels.
PLoS One. 2018; 13(3):e0193893 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Melanoma and prostate cancer may share risk factors. This study examined the association between serum PSA levels, which is a risk factor for prostate cancer, and variants in some melanoma-associated pigmentary genes.
METHODS: We studied participants, all aged 70+ years, in the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project who had no history of prostatitis or received treatment for prostate disease (n = 1033). We genotyped variants in MC1R (rs1805007, rs1805008), ASIP (rs4911414, rs1015362), SLC45A2 (rs28777, rs16891982), IRF4 (rs12203592), TYRP1 (rs1408799), TYR (rs1126809, rs1042602), SLC24A2 (rs12896399), and OCA2 (rs7495174). Generalised linear dominant models with Poisson distribution, log link functions and robust variance estimators estimated adjusted percentage differences (%PSA) in mean serum PSA levels (ng/mL) between variant and wildtype (0%PSA = reference) genotypes, adjusting for age, body mass index, serum 25OHD levels and birth regions (Australia or New Zealand (ANZ), Europe or elsewhere).
RESULTS: Serum PSA levels were strongly associated with advancing age and birth regions: mean PSA levels were lower in Europe-born (-29.7%) and elsewhere-born (-11.7%) men than ANZ-born men (reference). Lower %PSA was observed in men with variants in SLC45A2: rs28777 (-19.6;95%CI: -33.5, -2.7), rs16891982 (-17.3;95%CI:-30.4,-1.7) than in wildtype men (reference). There were significant interactions between birth regions and PSA levels in men with variants in MC1R (rs1805007; p-interaction = 0.0001) and ASIP (rs4911414; p-interaction = 0.007). For these genes %PSA was greater in ANZ-born men and lower in Europe- and elsewhere-born men with the variant than it was in wildtype men. In a post hoc analysis, serum testosterone levels were increased in men with MC1R rs1805007 and serum dihydrotestosterone in men with ASIP rs1015362.
CONCLUSION: Men with SNPs in SLC45A2, who have less sun sensitive skin, have lower PSA levels. Men with SNPs in MC1R and ASIP, who have more sun sensitive skin, and were born in ANZ, have higher PSA levels. Androgens may modify these apparent associations of pigmentary genes and sun exposure with PSA levels.
IMPACT: PSA levels and possibly prostate cancer risk may vary with sun sensitivity and sun exposure, the effects of which might be modified by androgen levels.

Huerta C, Garcia-Casado Z, Bañuls J, et al.
Characteristics of Familial Melanoma in Valencia, Spain, Based on the Presence of CDKN2A Mutations and MC1R Variants.
Acta Derm Venereol. 2018; 98(5):512-516 [PubMed] Related Publications
Melanoma results from a complex interplay between environmental factors and individual genetic susceptibility. Familial melanoma is attributable to predisposition genes with variable penetrance. The aim of this study was to identify differences between familial melanoma and sporadic cases in our population, based on the presence of CDKN2A mutations and MC1R variants. Comparing 107 patients with familial melanoma from 87 families (17% CDKN2A mutated) with 1,390 cases of sporadic melanomas, the former were younger and exhibited an increased prevalence of atypical naevi and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). CDKN2A mutation carriers presented more atypical naevi, multiple melanomas, and basal cell carcinoma, while non-carriers were more likely to have light-coloured hair, atypical naevi, and SCC. MC1R variants decreased the age at diagnosis in all groups and were associated with an increased prevalence of SCC, especially in patients with familial melanoma without CDKN2A mutations. These characteristics may help to establish prevention measures targeting patients with familial melanoma in the Mediterranean area.

Yu Y, Hu H, Chen JS, et al.
Integrated case-control and somatic-germline interaction analyses of melanoma susceptibility genes.
Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2018; 1864(6 Pt B):2247-2254 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
While a number of genes have been implicated in melanoma susceptibility, the role of protein-coding variation in melanoma development and progression remains underexplored. To better characterize the role of germline coding variation in melanoma, we conducted a whole-exome case-control and somatic-germline interaction study involving 322 skin cutaneous melanoma cases from The Cancer Genome Atlas and 3607 controls of European ancestry. We controlled for cross-platform technological stratification using XPAT and conducted gene-based association tests using VAAST 2. Four established melanoma susceptibility genes achieved nominal statistical significance, MC1R (p = .0014), MITF (p = .0165) BRCA2 (p = .0206), and MTAP (p = .0393). We also observed a suggestive association for FANCA (p = .002), a gene previously implicated in melanoma survival. The association signal for BRCA2 was driven primarily by likely gene disrupting (LGD) variants, with an Odds Ratio (OR) of 5.62 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.03-30.1). In contrast, the association signals for MC1R and MITF were driven primarily by predicted pathogenic missense variants, with estimated ORs of 1.4 to 3.0 for MC1R and 4.1 for MITF. MTAP exhibited an excess of both LGD and predicted damaging missense variants among cases, with ORs of 5.62 and 3.72, respectively, although neither category was significant. For individuals with known or predicted damaging variants, age of disease onset was significantly lower for two of the four genes, MC1R (p = .005) and MTAP (p = .035). In an analysis of germline carrier status and overlapping copy number alterations, we observed no evidence to support a two-hit model of carcinogenesis in any of the four genes. Although MC1R carriers were represented proportionally among the four molecular tumor subtypes, these individuals accounted for 69% of ultraviolet (UV) radiation mutational signatures among triple-wild type tumors (p = .040), highlighting the increased sensitivity to UV exposure among individuals with loss-of-function variants in MC1R.

Rodríguez CI, Castro-Pérez E, Longley BJ, Setaluri V
Elevated cyclic AMP levels promote BRAF
Cancer Lett. 2018; 414:268-277 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Melanocyte development and differentiation are regulated by cAMP, which is produced by the adenylate cyclase (AC) enzyme upon activation of the melanocortin-1-receptor (MC1R). Individuals carrying single amino acid substitution variants of MC1R have impaired cAMP signaling and higher risk of melanoma. However, the contribution of AC to this risk is not clear. Downstream of AC, the phosphorylated transcription factor, cyclic AMP Responsive Element Binding Protein (pCREB), which is activated by protein kinase A, regulates the expression of several genes including the melanocyte master regulator MITF. The roles of AC and CREB in melanoma development and growth are not well understood. Here, we investigated the effect of topical application of AC inhibitor on Braf

Espi P, Parajuli S, Benfodda M, et al.
Clinical and genetic characteristics of xeroderma pigmentosum in Nepal.
J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2018; 32(5):832-839 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Little is known about xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) in Himalayan countries.
OBJECTIVE: To describe clinical characteristics of XP in Nepal and investigate its genetic bases.
METHODS: This study was carried out on all consecutive patients referred for XP to a Nepalese tertiary referral centre in 2014-2015. Clinical data were collected using a standardized questionnaire. DNA was extracted from salivary samples, and next-generation sequencing (NGS) was conducted using a panel covering all 8 known XP genes (classical XP (XP-A to XP-G) and XP variant) and a skin cancer modifier gene, the melanocortin 1 receptor gene (MC1R).
RESULTS: Seventeen patients (median age: 15 years; range: 1-32) were included. Twelve had skin cancers (including a total of 8 squamous cell carcinomas, 60 basal cell carcinomas, ocular carcinomas requiring an orbital exenteration in 3 patients, but no melanoma). Fifteen patients carried the same homozygous non-sense XPC mutation c.1243C>T, p.R415X. A homozygous non-sense XPA mutation (p.W235X) was found in the only patient with a history of early severe sunburn reaction and associated neurological symptoms. Associated genetic alterations included heterozygous missense variants in XPD/ERCC2 gene and the presence of MC1R variant R163Q in 5 and 9 patients, respectively.
CONCLUSION: Although not previously reported, XP seems frequent in Nepal. Patients often presented with a very severe phenotype after a long history of excessive sun exposure without knowledge of the disease. Fifteen of 17 had the same p.R415X XPC mutation, which seems very specific of XP in Nepal, suggesting a founder effect. NGS analyses frequently revealed associated genetic alterations which could play a modifier role in the clinical expression of the disease.

Mohania D, Chandel S, Kumar P, et al.
Ultraviolet Radiations: Skin Defense-Damage Mechanism.
Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017; 996:71-87 [PubMed] Related Publications
UV-radiations are the invisible part of light spectra having a wavelength between visible rays and X-rays. Based on wavelength, UV rays are subdivided into UV-A (320-400 nm), UV-B (280-320 nm) and UV-C (200-280 nm). Ultraviolet rays can have both harmful and beneficial effects. UV-C has the property of ionization thus acting as a strong mutagen, which can cause immune-mediated disease and cancer in adverse cases. Numbers of genetic factors have been identified in human involved in inducing skin cancer from UV-radiations. Certain heredity diseases have been found susceptible to UV-induced skin cancer. UV radiations activate the cutaneous immune system, which led to an inflammatory response by different mechanisms. The first line of defense mechanism against UV radiation is melanin (an epidermal pigment), and UV absorbing pigment of skin, which dissipate UV radiation as heat. Cell surface death receptor (e.g. Fas) of keratinocytes responds to UV-induced injury and elicits apoptosis to avoid malignant transformation. In addition to the formation of photo-dimers in the genome, UV also can induce mutation by generating ROS and nucleotides are highly susceptible to these free radical injuries. Melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) has been known to be implicated in different UV-induced damages such as pigmentation, adaptive tanning, and skin cancer. UV-B induces the formation of pre-vitamin D3 in the epidermal layer of skin. UV-induced tans act as a photoprotection by providing a sun protection factor (SPF) of 3-4 and epidermal hyperplasia. There is a need to prevent the harmful effects and harness the useful effects of UV radiations.

Pellegrini C, Di Nardo L, Cipolloni G, et al.
Heterogeneity of BRAF, NRAS, and TERT Promoter Mutational Status in Multiple Melanomas and Association with MC1R Genotype: Findings from Molecular and Immunohistochemical Analysis.
J Mol Diagn. 2018; 20(1):110-122 [PubMed] Related Publications
Data on somatic heterogeneity and germline-somatic interaction in multiple primary melanoma (MPM) patients are limited. We investigated the mutational status of BRAF, NRAS, and TERT promoter genes in 97 melanomas of 44 MPM patients and compared molecular and immunohistochemical findings. We further evaluated the association of somatic alterations with the germline MC1R genotype. Mutations in BRAF gene were identified in 41.2% (40/97) of melanomas, in NRAS in 2.1% (2/97), and in TERT promoter in 19.6% (19/97). Distribution of BRAF mutations did not differ across multiple melanomas (P = 0.85), whereas TERT promoter changes decreased from first to subsequent melanomas (P = 0.04). Intrapatient discrepancy of BRAF mutations among multiple tumors was detected in 14 of 44 MPM patients (32%) and of BRAF/NRAS/TERT promoter genes in 20 of 44 (45%). We observed a high rate of agreement between allele-specific TaqMan assay and immunohistochemistry in BRAF

Wang W, Jorgenson E, Whittemore AS, Asgari MM
Susceptibility Loci-Associated Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma Invasiveness.
J Invest Dermatol. 2018; 138(3):557-561 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Genome-wide association studies have identified genetic loci associated with cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) risk, but single-nucleotide polymorphism associations with cSCC invasiveness have not been investigated. We examined associations between cSCC invasiveness and 23 reported single-nucleotide polymorphisms among 67,833 non-Hispanic white subjects. Additionally, we performed a genome-wide scan and identified one SNP with significantly different frequencies in 5,724 subjects with at least one invasive tumor and 1,943 subjects with in situ tumors only. We then compared genotype frequencies among the invasive and in situ groups with those of 60,166 control subjects. The genome-wide scan identified that the T allele in single-nucleotide polymorphism rs41269979 in the class II human leukocyte antigen region was more frequent in the invasive than the in situ group (P = 4.93 × 10

Flori E, Rosati E, Cardinali G, et al.
The α-melanocyte stimulating hormone/peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-γ pathway down-regulates proliferation in melanoma cell lines.
J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2017; 36(1):142 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The α-Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone (αMSH)/Melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) interaction promotes melanogenesis through the cAMP/PKA pathway. The direct induction of this pathway by Forskolin (FSK) is also known to enhance melanocyte proliferation. αMSH acts as a mitogenic agent in melanocytes and its effect on proliferation of melanoma cells is less known. We previously identified the αMSH/Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptor (PPARγ) pathway as a new pathway on the B16-F10 mouse melanoma cell line. αMSH induced the translocation of PPARγ into the nucleus as an active transcription factor. This effect was independent of the cAMP/PKA pathway and was mediated by the activation of the PI(4,5)P2/PLC pathway, a pathway which we have described to be triggered by the αMSH-dependent MC1R stimulation. Moreover, in the same study, preliminary experiments showed that mouse melanoma cells responded to αMSH by reducing proliferation and that PPARγ was involved in this effect. Due to its key role in the control of cell proliferation, PPARγ agonists are used in therapeutic models for different forms of cancer, including melanoma. The purpose of this study was: (a) to confirm the different proliferative behavior in response to αMSH in healthy and in melanoma condition; (b) to verify whether the cAMP/PKA pathway and the PLC/PPARγ pathway could exert an antagonistic function in the control of proliferation; (c) to deepen the knowledge of the molecular basis responsible for the down-proliferative response of melanoma cells after exposure to αMSH.
METHODS: We employed B16-F10 cell line, a human melanoma cell line (Mel 13) and two primary cultures of human melanocytes (NHM 1 and NHM 2, respectively), all expressing a wild type MC1R and responding to the αMSH in terms of pigmentation. We evaluated cell proliferation through: a) cell counting, b) cell cycle analysis c) protein expression of proliferation modulators (p27, p21, cyclin D1 and cyclin E).
RESULTS: The αMSH acted as a mitogenic agent in primary cultures of human melanocytes, whereas it determined a slow down of proliferation in melanoma cell lines. FSK, as an inducer of the cAMP/PKA pathway, reproduced the αMSH mediated effect on proliferation in NHMs but it did not mimic the αMSH effect on proliferation in B16-F10 and Mel 13 melanoma cell lines. Meanwhile, 3 M3-FBS (3 M3), as an inducer of PI(4,5)P2/PLC pathway, reproduced the αMSH proliferative effect. Further experiments, treating melanoma cell lines with αMSH in the presence/absence of GW9662, as an inhibitor of PPARγ, confirmed the key role of this transcription factor in decreasing cell proliferation in response to the hormone exposure.
CONCLUSIONS: In both melanoma cell lines, αMSH determined the reduction of proliferation through the PI(4,5)P2/PLC pathway, employing PPARγ as an effector element. These evidence could offer perspectives for new therapeutic approaches for melanoma.

Vallone MG, Tell-Marti G, Potrony M, et al.
Melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) polymorphisms' influence on size and dermoscopic features of nevi.
Pigment Cell Melanoma Res. 2018; 31(1):39-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
The melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) is a highly polymorphic gene. The loss-of-function MC1R variants ("R") have been strongly associated with red hair color phenotype and an increased melanoma risk. We sequenced the MC1R gene in 175 healthy individuals to assess the influence of MC1R on nevus phenotype. We identified that MC1R variant carriers had larger nevi both on the back [p-value = .016, adjusted for multiple parameters (adj. p-value)] and on the upper limbs (adj. p-value = .007). Specifically, we identified a positive association between the "R" MC1R variants and visible vessels in nevi [p-value = .033, corrected using the FDR method for multiple comparisons (corrected p-value)], dots and globules in nevi (corrected p-value = .033), nevi with eccentric hyperpigmentation (corrected p-value = .033), a high degree of freckling (adj. p-value = .019), and an associative trend with presence of blue nevi (corrected p-value = .120). In conclusion, the MC1R gene appears to influence the nevus phenotype.

Rodríguez CI, Castro-Pérez E, Prabhakar K, et al.
EPAC-RAP1 Axis-Mediated Switch in the Response of Primary and Metastatic Melanoma to Cyclic AMP.
Mol Cancer Res. 2017; 15(12):1792-1802 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Cyclic AMP (cAMP) is an important second messenger that regulates a wide range of physiologic processes. In mammalian cutaneous melanocytes, cAMP-mediated signaling pathways activated by G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR), like melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), play critical roles in melanocyte homeostasis including cell survival, proliferation, and pigment synthesis. Impaired cAMP signaling is associated with increased risk of cutaneous melanoma. Although mutations in MAPK pathway components are the most frequent oncogenic drivers of melanoma, the role of cAMP in melanoma is not well understood. Here, using the Braf(V600E)/Pten-null mouse model of melanoma, topical application of an adenylate cyclase agonist, forskolin (a cAMP inducer), accelerated melanoma tumor development

Thomas NE, Edmiston SN, Kanetsky PA, et al.
Associations of MC1R Genotype and Patient Phenotypes with BRAF and NRAS Mutations in Melanoma.
J Invest Dermatol. 2017; 137(12):2588-2598 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Associations of MC1R with BRAF mutations in melanoma have been inconsistent between studies. We sought to determine for 1,227 participants in the international population-based Genes, Environment, and Melanoma (GEM) study whether MC1R and phenotypes were associated with melanoma BRAF/NRAS subtypes. We used logistic regression adjusted by age, sex, and study design features and examined effect modifications. BRAF

Vernali S, Waxweiler WT, Dillon PM, et al.
Association of Incident Amelanotic Melanoma With Phenotypic Characteristics, MC1R Status, and Prior Amelanotic Melanoma.
JAMA Dermatol. 2017; 153(10):1026-1031 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2019 Related Publications
Importance: We previously reported that survival is poorer from histopathologically amelanotic than pigmented melanoma because of more advanced stage at diagnosis. Identifying patients at risk of amelanotic melanoma might enable earlier diagnosis and improved survival; however, the phenotypic characteristics and underlying genetics associated with amelanotic melanoma are unknown.
Objective: To determine whether phenotypic characteristics, carriage of MC1R variants, and history of amelanotic melanoma are associated with histopathologically amelanotic melanoma.
Design, Setting, and Participants: The Genes, Environment, and Melanoma (GEM) study is an international cohort study that enrolled patients with incident primary cutaneous melanomas from population-based and hospital-based cancer registries (1998 to 2003). The GEM participants included here were 2387 patients with data for phenotypes, MC1R genotype, and primary melanomas scored for histopathologic pigmentation. Of these 2387 patients with incident melanomas scored for pigmentation, 527 had prior primary melanomas also scored for pigmentation.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Associations of phenotypic characteristics (freckles, nevi, phenotypic index) and MC1R status with incident amelanotic melanomas were evaluated using logistic regression models adjusted for age, sex, study center, and primary status (single or multiple primary melanoma); odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs are reported. Association of histopathologic pigmentation between incident and prior melanomas was analyzed using an exact logistic regression model.
Results: This study included 2387 patients (1065 women, 1322 men; mean [SD] age at diagnosis, 58.3 [16.1] years) and 2917 primary melanomas. In a multivariable model including phenotypic characteristics, absence of back nevi, presence of many freckles, and a sun-sensitive phenotypic index were independently associated with amelanotic melanoma. Carriage of MC1R variants was associated with amelanotic melanoma but lost statistical significance in a model with phenotype. Further, patients with incident primary amelanotic melanomas were more likely to have had a prior primary amelanotic melanoma (OR, 4.62; 95% CI, 1.25-14.13) than those with incident primary pigmented melanomas.
Conclusions and Relevance: Absence of back nevi, presence of many freckles, a sun-sensitive phenotypic index, and prior amelanotic melanoma increase odds for development of amelanotic melanoma. An increased index of suspicion for melanoma in presenting nonpigmented lesions and more careful examination for signs of amelanotic melanoma during periodic skin examination in patients at increased odds of amelanotic melanoma might lead to earlier diagnosis and improved survival.

Herraiz C, Jiménez-Cervantes C, Sánchez-Laorden B, García-Borrón JC
Functional interplay between secreted ligands and receptors in melanoma.
Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2018; 78:73-84 [PubMed] Related Publications
Melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, results from the malignant transformation of melanocytes located in the basement membrane separating the epidermal and dermal skin compartments. Cutaneous melanoma is often initiated by solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR)-induced mutations. Melanocytes intimately interact with keratinocytes, which provide growth factors and melanocortin peptides acting as paracrine regulators of proliferation and differentiation. Keratinocyte-derived melanocortins activate melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) to protect melanocytes from the carcinogenic effect of UVR. Accordingly, MC1R is a major determinant of susceptibility to melanoma. Despite extensive phenotypic heterogeneity and high mutation loads, the molecular basis of melanomagenesis and the molecules mediating the crosstalk between melanoma and stromal cells are relatively well understood. Mutations of intracellular effectors of receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) signalling, notably NRAS and BRAF, are major driver events more frequent than mutations in RTKs. Nevertheless, melanomas often display aberrant signalling from RTKs such as KIT, ERRB1-4, FGFR, MET and PDGFR, which contribute to disease progression and resistance to targeted therapies. Progress has also been made to unravel the role of the tumour secretome in preparing the metastatic niche. However, key aspects of the melanoma-stroma interplay, such as the molecular determinants of dormancy, remain poorly understood.

Yin K, Chhabra Y, Tropée R, et al.
NR4A2 Promotes DNA Double-strand Break Repair Upon Exposure to UVR.
Mol Cancer Res. 2017; 15(9):1184-1196 [PubMed] Related Publications
Exposure of melanocytes to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) induces the formation of UV lesions that can produce deleterious effects in genomic DNA. Encounters of replication forks with unrepaired UV lesions can lead to several complex phenomena, such as the formation of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). The NR4A family of nuclear receptors are transcription factors that have been associated with mediating DNA repair functions downstream of the MC1R signaling pathway in melanocytes. In particular, emerging evidence shows that upon DNA damage, the NR4A2 receptor can translocate to sites of UV lesion by mechanisms requiring post-translational modifications within the N-terminal domain and at a serine residue in the DNA-binding domain at position 337. Following this, NR4A2 aids in DNA repair by facilitating chromatin relaxation, allowing accessibility for DNA repair machinery. Using A2058 and HT144 melanoma cells engineered to stably express wild-type or mutant forms of the NR4A2 proteins, we reveal that the expression of functional NR4A2 is associated with elevated cytoprotection against UVR. Conversely, knockdown of NR4A2 expression by siRNA results in a significant loss of cell viability after UV insult. By analyzing the kinetics of the ensuing 53BP1 and RAD51 foci following UV irradiation, we also reveal that the expression of mutant NR4A2 isoforms, lacking the ability to translocate, transactivate, or undergo phosphorylation, display compromised repair capacity.

Ainger SA, Jagirdar K, Lee KJ, et al.
Skin Pigmentation Genetics for the Clinic.
Dermatology. 2017; 233(1):1-15 [PubMed] Related Publications
Human pigmentation characteristics play an important role in the effects of sun exposure, skin cancer induction and disease outcomes. Several of the genes most important for this diversity are involved in the regulation and distribution of melanin pigmentation or enzymes involved in melanogenesis itself within the melanocyte cell present in the skin, hair and eyes. The single nucleotide polymorphisms and extended haplotypes within or surrounding these genes have been identified as risk factors for skin cancer, in particular, melanoma. These same polymorphisms have been under selective pressure leading towards lighter pigmentation in Europeans in the last 5,000-20,000 years that have driven the increase in frequency in modern populations. Although pigmentation is a polygenic trait, due to interactive and quantitative gene effects, strong phenotypic associations are readily apparent for these major genes. However, predictive value and utility are increased when considering gene polymorphism interactions. In melanoma, an increased penetrance is found in cases when pigmentation gene risk alleles such as MC1R variants are coincident with mutation of higher-risk melanoma genes including CDKN2A, CDK4 and MITF E318K, demonstrating an interface between the pathways for pigmentation, naevogenesis and melanoma. The clinical phenotypes associated with germline changes in pigmentation and naevogenic genes must be understood by clinicians, and will be of increasing relevance to dermatologists, as genomics is incorporated into the delivery of personalised medicine.

Torrens-Mas M, González-Hedström D, Abrisqueta M, et al.
PGC-1α in Melanoma: A Key Factor for Antioxidant Response and Mitochondrial Function.
J Cell Biochem. 2017; 118(12):4404-4413 [PubMed] Related Publications
Melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) and BRAF are common mutations in melanoma. Through different pathways, they each regulate the expression of PGC-1α, which is a key factor in the regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and the antioxidant response. Our aim was to study the importance of the different regulatory characteristics of MC1R and BRAF on the pathways they regulate in melanoma. For this purpose, ROS production, levels of gene expression and enzymatic activities were analyzed in HBL and MeWo, with wild-type MC1R and BRAF, and A375 cells with mutant MC1R and BRAF. HBL cells showed a functional MC1R-PGC-1α pathway and exhibited the lowest ROS production, probably because of a better mitochondrial pool and the presence of UCP2. On the other hand, MeWo cells showed elevated levels of PGC-1α but also high ROS production, similar to the A375 cells, along with an activated antioxidant response and significantly low levels of UCP2. Finally, A375 cells are mutant for BRAF, and thus showed low levels of PGC-1α. Consequently, A375 cells exhibited poor mitochondrial biogenesis and function, and no antioxidant response. These results show the importance of the activation of the MC1R-PGC-1α pathway for mitochondrial biogenesis and function in melanoma development, as well as BRAF for the antioxidant response regulated by PGC-1α. J. Cell. Biochem. 118: 4404-4413, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Koulermou G, Shammas C, Vassiliou A, et al.
CDKN2A and MC1R variants found in Cypriot patients diagnosed with cutaneous melanoma.
J Genet. 2017; 96(1):155-160 [PubMed] Related Publications
The prevalence of genetic variants associated to cutaneous melanoma (CM) has never been determined within Cypriot melanomas. This study evaluates the frequency of variants in cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (CDKN2A) and melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) in 32 patients diagnosed with CM. Other characteristics and risk factors were also assessed. CDKN2A p.Ala148Thr was detected in three of 32 patients, while the control group revealed no variations within CDKN2A. MC1R screening in 32 patients revealed the following variations: p.Val60Leu in 11 patients, p.Arg142His in four patients, p.Thr314Thr in one patient, p.Arg160Trp in one patient, p.Val92Met/p.Thr314Thr in one patient and p.Val92Met/p.Arg142His/p.Thr314Thr in one patient. The control group revealed only p.Val60Leu (in 10 of 45 individuals), which is frequently found in general populations. Two unrelated patients carried CDKN2A p.Ala148Thr in combination with MC1R p.Arg142His, suggesting digenic inheritance that may provide evidence of different gene variants acting synergistically to contribute for CM development. This study confirms the presence of CDKN2A and MC1R variants among Cypriot melanomas and supports existing evidence of a role for these variants in susceptibility to melanoma.

Herraiz C, Garcia-Borron JC, Jiménez-Cervantes C, Olivares C
MC1R signaling. Intracellular partners and pathophysiological implications.
Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2017; 1863(10 Pt A):2448-2461 [PubMed] Related Publications
The melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) preferentially expressed in melanocytes is best known as a key regulator of the synthesis of epidermal melanin pigments. Its paracrine stimulation by keratinocyte-derived melanocortins also activates DNA repair pathways and antioxidant defenses to build a complex, multifaceted photoprotective response. Many MC1R actions rely on cAMP-dependent activation of two transcription factors, MITF and PGC1α, but pleiotropic MC1R signaling also involves activation of mitogen-activated kinases and AKT. MC1R partners such as β-arrestins, PTEN and the E3 ubiquitin ligase MGRN1 differentially regulate these pathways. The MC1R gene is complex and polymorphic, with frequent variants associated with skin phenotypes and increased cancer risk. We review current knowledge of signaling from canonical MC1R, its splice isoforms and natural polymorphic variants. Recently discovered intracellular targets and partners are also discussed, to highlight the diversity of mechanisms that may contribute to normal and pathological variation of pigmentation and sensitivity to solar radiation-induced damage. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Melanocortin Receptors - edited by Ya-Xiong Tao.

Pellegrini C, Maturo MG, Martorelli C, et al.
Characterization of melanoma susceptibility genes in high-risk patients from Central Italy.
Melanoma Res. 2017; 27(3):258-267 [PubMed] Related Publications
Genetic susceptibility to cutaneous melanoma has been investigated in Italian high-risk melanoma patients from different geographical regions. CDKN2A, CDK4, and MC1R genes have been screened in most studies, MITF and POT1 were screened in only one study, and none analyzed the TERT promoter. We carried out a mutational analysis of CDKN2A, CDK4 exon 2, POT1 p.S270N, MITF exon 10, MC1R, and the TERT promoter in 106 high-risk patients with familial melanoma (FM) and sporadic multiple primary melanoma (spMPM) from Central Italy and evaluated mutations according to the clinicopathological characteristics of patients and lesions. In FM, CDKN2A mutations were detected in 8.3% of the families, including one undescribed exon 1β mutation (p.T31M), and their prevalence increased with the number of affected relatives within the family. MC1R variants were identified in 65% of the patients and the TERT rs2853669 promoter polymorphism was identified in 58% of the patients. A novel synonymous mutation detected in MITF exon 10 (c.861A>G, p.E287E), although predicted as a splice site mutation by computational tools, could not functionally be confirmed to alter splicing. For spMPM, 3% carried CDKN2A mutations, 79% carried MC1R variants, and 47% carried the TERT rs2853669 promoter polymorphism. MC1R variants were associated with fair skin type and light hair color both in FM and in spMPM, and with a reduction of age at diagnosis in FM patients. Mutations in CDK4 exon 2 and the POT1 p.S270N mutation were not detected. A low frequency of CDKN2A mutations and a high prevalence of MC1R variants characterize high-risk melanoma patients from Central Italy.

DE Simone P, Valiante M, Silipo V
Familial melanoma and multiple primary melanoma.
G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2017; 152(3):262-265 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cutaneous melanoma (CM) has the highest mortality rates among the most common skin cancers, and its incidence is rising worldwide, thus representing a significant health care burden. CM is considered the most lethal skin cancer if not detected and treated during its early stages. Susceptibility to CM is also associated with an increased presence of atypical nevi and the occurrence of multiple primary melanoma. Personal history of CM increases the risk of developing a second melanoma by 5-8%. A family history of melanoma has also been strongly associated with an increased risk of melanoma. Approximately 5-10% of melanoma cases occur in a familial context. The main genes involved are CDKN2A, CDK4 and MC1R. The recent technological advances have allowed the identification of new genes involved in melanoma susceptibility: breast cancer 1 (BRCA1), BRCA1-associated protein 1 (BAP1), and telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT).Tests on these genes allow to identify a larger number of high-risk individuals with a potential of developing familial melanoma and primary multiple melanomas. These patients also have a high risk of developing internal organ malignancies, especially pancreatic cancer. It is essential that these individuals receive adequate management along with frequent dermatological examinations, dermoscopic evaluation, genetic counselling and instrumental examinations aimed at the early identification of other tumors associated with CM.

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