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Matheis, Fanny; Heppt, Markus V.; Graf, Saskia A.; Düwell, Peter; Kammerbauer, Claudia; Aigner, Achim; Besch, Robert; Berking, Carola (2016): A Bifunctional Approach of Immunostimulation and uPAR Inhibition Shows Potent Antitumor Activity in Melanoma. In: Journal of investigative Dermatology, Vol. 136, Nr. 12: S. 2475-2484
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Abstract

Significant advancements of mutation-based targeted therapy and immune checkpoint blockade have been achieved in melanoma. Nevertheless, acquired resistance and nonresponders to therapy require different strategies. An innovative approach is presented here that is based on the combination of innate immune system activation and simultaneous targeting of the oncogene urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR). We generated two triphosphate-conjugated siRNAs targeting uPAR (ppp-uPAR) by in vitro transcription. Specific uPAR knockdown and simultaneous activation of the retinoic acid-inducible gene 1 (RIG-I) was shown in different human melanoma cells, fibroblasts, and melanocytes. The compounds induced massive apoptosis in melanoma cells, whereas fibroblasts and melanocytes were less sensitive. The effects were less pronounced when the IFN receptor was blocked. Treatment with ppp-uPAR led to accumulation of p53 and induction of RIG-Iedependent proapoptotic signaling. The apoptotic effects induced by ppp-uPAR were maintained in melanoma cell lines that had acquired double resistance to B-RAF and MEK/extracellular signal-regulated kinase inhibition. Systemic intraperitoneal application of ppp-uPAR in nude mice significantly reduced growth of human melanoma xenografts and elicited a systemic innate immune response with increased serum cytokine levels. Our data suggest that ppp-uPAR represents a therapeutically attractive compound that may help overcome the strong therapy resistance of melanoma.