Activation of dual apoptotic pathways in human melanocytes and protection by survivin

Tong Liu, Diana Biddle, Adrianne N. Hanks, Brook Brouha, Hui Yan, Ray M. Lee, Sancy A. Leachman, Douglas Grossman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Apoptosis resistance in melanoma is a primary cause of treatment failure. Apoptotic pathways in melanocytes, from which melanoma arises, are poorly characterized. Human melanocytes were susceptible to apoptosis following exposure to UV radiation (UVB, 24-48 hours), 4-tert-butylphenol (4-TBP, 1-4 hours), and cisplatin (24-48 hours). These responses were associated with Bid cleavage, caspase activation (caspases 3, 8, and 9), mitochondrial depolarization and release of cytochrome c, Smac/DIABLO, and apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF), but not endonuclease G. The apoptotic responses and AIF release were caspase-independent, as they were not blocked by zVal-Ala-Asp(OMe)- fluoromethyl ketone (zVAD-fmk). While RNA interference-mediated knockdown of AIF protected melanocytes against apoptosis induced by serum withdrawal, apoptotic responses to UVB, cisplatin, and 4-TBP were not compromised by AIF knockdown, even in the presence of zVAD-fmk. Finally, adenoviral-mediated expression of Survivin, an inhibitor of apoptosis expressed in melanoma but not melanocytes, protected melanocytes against UVB-induced apoptosis. Survivin expression in melanocytes partially blocked caspase activation and release of mitochondrial release of AIF, cytochrome c, and Smac induced by UVB. These data indicate that multiple stimuli can activate both caspase-dependent and caspase-independent apoptotic pathways in melanocytes, and that endogenous expression of Survivin in melanoma may contribute to apoptosis resistance by multiple mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2247-2256
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 30 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Activation of dual apoptotic pathways in human melanocytes and protection by survivin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this