The Role of Mc1r in Melanocytic UV-Induced DNA Damage and Repair Responses

Grants and Contracts Details


We seek to understand the molecular responses that occur when skin is exposed to UV radiation in order to devise novel strategies to protect against damage and carcinogenesis. In this proposal we will examine two major risk factors for skin cancer: IN radiation and pigment (melanin) phenotype. Our studies focus on the melanocyte, and its cell surface receptor, the melanocortin-1 receptor (Mclr), which regulates melanin synthesis. We hypothesize that Mclr protects melanocytes against UV-mediated mutagenesis and transformation by modulating melanization and recovery from UV-mediated cellular injury. Loss-of-function polymorphisms in Mclr correlate with fair skin and a high incidence of melanoma, while robust Mclr function correlates with darker skin and UV resistance. We have developed a novel genetically-matched murine model of human skin as well as a protocol for growing primary melanocytes from these mice. These isogenic melanocytes span eumelanotic, pheomelanotic, and amelanotic melanin composition, will serve a unique and potent tool to delineate the role of Mci r function in response to UV. Using our unique animal mode! and primary melanocytes derived thereof, we propose the following aims: Aim 1. Characterize the mechanism of McI r-mediated enhancement of nucleotide excision repair (NER); Aim 2. Determine whether Mclr signaling protects against UV-mediated oxidative damage; and Aim 3. Determine the ability of pharmacologic Mci r rescue to protect against UV damage. With respect to Aim `1, we will examine the role of Mclr in the repair of UV-induced photolesions by southwestern and flow cytometric analysis and determine the influence of Mci r on cellular levels of nucleotide excision repair enzymes by qRT-PCR and Western analysis. We will investigate a molecular link between Mci r signaling and enhanced repair enzyme levels by examining expression of the NER enzymes basally and in the setting of UV irradiation and by investigating the ability of cAMP-responsive transcription factors downstream of Mci r signaling (namely Miff and CREB) to bind to and induce transcription of NER enzyme promoters. In Aim 2 we will study whether pheomelanin, which is produced as a result of low Mclr function, promotes oxidative damage in melanocytes by complementary measures of oxidative load (DCF-mediated fluorescence flow cytometry, Southwestern blotting, hOGO 1-adapted Comet assay, TBARS assay, and direct quantification of oxidative DNA adducts by GC/MS). Importantly, we will directly test whether pheomelanin functions as a pro-carcinogen by an HPRT-based forward mutagenesis approach in primary melanocytes. Finally, we will directly test the ability of forskolin, an activator of adenylyl cyclase, to bypass defective Mclr function to enhance recovery from UV-mediated DNA damage and to rescue UV protection in melanocytes and in whole skin. Together, these studies will lay the foundation for future translational studies designed to develop novel small molecule-based approaches for UV and cancer protection to prevent many cases of melanoma.
Effective start/end date7/1/104/14/16


  • National Cancer Institute: $1,625,377.00


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