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Senft, Daniela; Berking, Carola; Graf, Saskia A.; Kammerbauer, Claudia; Ruzicka, Thomas; Besch, Robert (2012): Selective induction of cell death in melanoma cell lines through targeting of Mcl-1 and A1.
In: PloS one 7(1), e30821




Melanoma is an often fatal form of skin cancer which is remarkably resistant against radio- and chemotherapy. Even new strategies that target RAS/RAF signaling and display unprecedented efficacy are characterized by resistance mechanisms. The targeting of survival pathways would be an attractive alternative strategy, if tumor-specific cell death can be achieved. Bcl-2 proteins play a central role in regulating survival of tumor cells. In this study, we systematically investigated the relevance of antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins, i.e., Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, Bcl-w, Mcl-1, and A1, in melanoma cell lines and non-malignant cells using RNAi. We found that melanoma cells required the presence of specific antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins: Inhibition of Mcl-1 and A1 strongly induced cell death in some melanoma cell lines, whereas non-malignant cells, i.e., primary human fibroblasts or keratinocytes were not affected. This specific sensitivity of melanoma cells was further enhanced by the combined inhibition of Mcl-1 and A1 and resulted in 60% to 80% cell death in all melanoma cell lines tested. This treatment was successfully combined with chemotherapy, which killed a substantial proportion of cells that survived Mcl-1 and A1 inhibition. Together, these results identify antiapoptotic proteins on which specifically melanoma cells rely on and, thus, provide a basis for the development of new Bcl-2 protein-targeting therapies.