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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 13;108(37):15219-24. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1107304108. Epub 2011 Sep 6.

Expression of the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGluR5) induces melanoma in transgenic mice.

Author information

  • 1Receptor Biology Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

Abstract

Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the mammalian CNS and mediates fast synaptic transmission upon activation of glutamate-gated ion channels. In addition, glutamate modulates a variety of other synaptic responses and intracellular signaling by activating metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs), which are G protein-coupled receptors. The mGluRs are also expressed in nonneuronal tissues and are implicated in a variety of normal biological functions as well as diseases. To study mGluR-activated calcium signaling in neurons, we generated mGluR5 transgenic animals using a Thy1 promoter to drive expression in the forebrain, and one founder unexpectedly developed melanoma. To directly investigate the role of mGluR5 in melanoma formation, we generated mGluR5 transgenic lines under a melanocyte-specific promoter, tyrosinase-related protein 1. A majority of the founders showed a severe phenotype with early onset. Hyperpigmentation of the pinnae and tail could be detected as early as 3-5 d after birth for most of the mGluR5 transgene-positive mice. There was 100% penetrance in the progeny from the tyrosinase-related protein 1-mGluR5 lines generated from founders that developed melanoma. Expression of mGluR5 was detected in melanoma samples by RT-PCR, immunoblotting, and immunohistochemistry. We evaluated the expression of several cancer-related proteins in tumor samples and observed a dramatic increase in the phosphorylation of ERK, implicating ERK as a downstream effector of mGluR5 signaling in tumors. Our findings show that mGluR5-mediated glutamatergic signaling can trigger melanoma in vivo. The aggressive growth and severe phenotype make these mouse lines unique and a potentially powerful tool for therapeutic studies.

PMID:
21896768
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3174576
Free PMC Article

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