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Oncogene. 2000 Jan 20;19(3):395-402.

Tyrosinase-related protein 2 as a mediator of melanoma specific resistance to cis-diamminedichloroplatinum(II): therapeutic implications.

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Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Division of Cancer Biology Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


A major obstacle in the systemic treatment of advanced malignant melanoma is its intrinsic resistance to conventionally used chemotherapeutic agents. In order to investigate the mechanisms of this intrinsic resistance, we have previously utilized retroviral insertional mutagenesis on an early-stage, drug sensitive human melanoma cell line (WM35) to establish mutated cell lines that exhibited increased resistance to cis-diammi-nedichloroplatinum(II) (CDDP). Here, we demonstrate that this increased resistance to CDDP is mediated by the over-expression of tyrosinase-related protein-2 (TYRP2), an enzyme that normally functions in the biosynthesis of the pigment, melanin. Northern and Western blot analyses revealed that the expression of TYRP2 in the virally-derived cell lines as well as in a panel of human melanoma cell lines positively correlated with their levels of resistance to CDDP. Furthermore, enforced expression of TYRP2 in WM35 cells by transfection elevated their resistance to CDDP. The increased CDDP resistance in the virally-derived clones and TYRP2 transfectants was accompanied by a reduction in CDDP-induced apoptosis. Interestingly, the virally-derived CDDP-resistant clones also showed cross resistance to carboplatin and methotrexate, but not taxol, suggesting that TYRP2 over-expression may confer resistance specifically to DNA damaging agents. Overall, these results demonstrate a novel mechanism of drug resistance in human melanoma cells that is mediated by the over-expression of TYRP2. Since TYRP2 is expressed only in cells of melanocytic lineage, this may represent the first report of a lineage-specific mechanism of drug resistance. In summary, these findings suggest a significant role for TYRP2 in the intrinsic drug resistance phenotype of human melanoma cells and may have important implications in the development of chemosensitization strategies for the clinical management of this disease.

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