Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Role of the Skin Microenvironment in Melanomagenesis: Epidermal Keratinocytes and Dermal Fibroblasts Promote BRAF Oncogene-Induced Senescence Escape in Melanocytes.


BRAFV600E is the most common mutation driver in melanoma. This mutation is known to cause a brief burst of proliferation followed by growth arrest and senescence, which prevent an uncontrolled cell proliferation. This phenomenon is known as oncogene-induced senescence (OIS) and OIS escape is thought to lead to melanomagenesis. Much attention has been focused on the melanocyte-intrinsic mechanisms that contribute to senescence escape. Additional genetic events such as the loss of tumor suppressor PTEN and/or epigenetic changes that contribute to senescence escape have been described. However, the role of the skin microenvironment-specifically, the role of epidermal keratinocytes-on melanomagenesis is not fully understood. In this study, we employ a microfluidic platform to study the interaction between melanocytes expressing the BRAFV600E mutation as well as keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts. We demonstrate that keratinocytes suppress senescence-related genes and promote the proliferation of transformed melanocytes. We also show that a keratinocyte-conditioned medium can alter the secretion of both pro- and anti-tumorigenic factors by transformed melanocytes. In addition, we show that melanocytes and keratinocytes from donors of white European and black African ancestry display different crosstalks; i.e., white keratinocytes appear to promote a more pro-tumorigenic phenotype compared with black keratinocytes. These data suggest that keratinocytes exert their influence on melanomagenesis both by suppressing senescence-related genes in melanocytes and by affecting the balance of the melanocyte-secreted factors that favor tumorigenesis.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View