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Nat Commun. 2012 Jun 6;3:884. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1893.

Melanoma induction by ultraviolet A but not ultraviolet B radiation requires melanin pigment.

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  • 1Laboratory of Photobiology and Photoimmunology, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, The George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia 20037, USA.


Malignant melanoma of the skin (CMM) is associated with ultraviolet radiation exposure, but the mechanisms and even the wavelengths responsible are unclear. Here we use a mammalian model to investigate melanoma formed in response to precise spectrally defined ultraviolet wavelengths and biologically relevant doses. We show that melanoma induction by ultraviolet A (320-400 nm) requires the presence of melanin pigment and is associated with oxidative DNA damage within melanocytes. In contrast, ultraviolet B radiation (280-320 nm) initiates melanoma in a pigment-independent manner associated with direct ultraviolet B DNA damage. Thus, we identified two ultraviolet wavelength-dependent pathways for the induction of CMM and describe an unexpected and significant role for melanin within the melanocyte in melanomagenesis.

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