The Zon lab has announced the publication of two major melanoma studies by members and affiliates of the lab in the March 24, 2011 issue of Nature. The cover of the issue (shown left) features a photograph taken by one of the researchers, Yariv Houvras, M.D., Ph.D., of a heavily pigmented zebrafish whose melanocytes express SETDB1 and BRAF(V600E).
The histone methyltransferase SETDB1 is recurrently amplified in melanoma and accelerates its onset [abstract]
Using a zebrafish model, researchers established SETDB1 as an oncogene in melanomas with the BRAF(V600E) mutation, which is the most common melanoma mutation. The product of SETDB1 is a histone-methylating enzyme, SETDB1, which is also overactive in several other cancers. This is the first instance of a melanoma oncogene being identified by use of zebrafish, and the gene could prove to be a valuable diagnostic and treatment target.
DHODH modulates transcriptional elongation in the neural crest and melanoma [abstract]
Leflunomide, an arthritis drug that acts as a DHODH inhibitor, decreases melanomas in mice both when used alone and when used in combination with a specific inhibitor of the BRAF(V600E) oncogene. These findings have direct clinical potential as leflunomide might prove to be a useful cancer drug, especially when combined with a BRAF inhibitor.
For more information, please read Children’s Hospital Boston’s press release on the papers.
In the news:
- “Zebrafish offer skin cancer clues” – USA Today, 3/23/11
- “Arthritis drug could help beat melanoma” – Reuters, 3/23/11
- “3 studies offer insights into skin and blood cancers” – Boston Globe, 3/24/11