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Lipid metabolism in melanoma progression

European researchers investigated an intriguing association between lipids and melanoma progression. This mechanistic insight is expected to provide novel anti-cancer therapeutic targets.
Lipid metabolism in melanoma progression
Accumulating evidence points towards the presence of a subpopulation of cancer cells capable of tumour development and therapeutic resistance. These cancer stem cells resemble their normal counterparts in terms of activation and self-renewal and utilise the same transduction pathways.

The Wnt/b-catenin signalling pathway plays a central role in melanoma biology as it activates melanocyte stem cells and enhances metastasis. It is implicated in the expression of the master regulator of the melanocyte lineage MITF, which is central to melanoma progression. In addition, adipocytes are crucial for activating hair follicle stem cells and transferring lipids to cancer cells and are frequently encountered during cancer cell invasion.

Scientists on the EU-funded LAMB (Lipid-mediated activation of b-catenin in melanoma biology) project investigated the impact of lipid uptake on b-catenin signalling and the biological consequences on melanoma. They discovered that physiological levels of lipids controlled Wnt signalling as well as the transcriptional activation of key genes and markers involved in the epithelial mesenchymal transition associated with cancer cell invasiveness. Interestingly, lipids did not interfere with the expression of genes implicated in melanoma cell proliferation. Rather, they seemed to regulate lipid metabolism markers between invasive and proliferative cell lines.

Collectively, LAMB results suggest that adipocytes may serve as an exogenous source of lipids that switch melanoma cells to a more invasive state. The results provide fundamental insight into how lipid signalling can impact cancer biology and a possible explanation for the observed increased cancer incidence in the obese. From a clinical perspective, the generated information could offer new opportunities for targeted therapies directed towards prevention of metastatic spread.

Related information


Lipid, melanoma, cancer stem cells, Wnt/b-catenin signalling, LAMB
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