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Cell Cycle. 2006 Jun;5(12):1258-61. Epub 2006 Jun 15.

Skin hypoxia: a promoting environmental factor in melanomagenesis.

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Division of Radiation and Cancer Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.


Melanomagenesis is a complex phenomenon in which environmental, genetic and host factors play a role. Sun burns in early childhood are a known risk factor in melanoma development. Alteration of prosurvival genes such as Ras and Akt and loss of function of the p16(INK4a)-CDK4/6-pRb and p14(ARF)-HDM2-p53 pathways are strongly associated with human melanoma. We have demonstrated that normally occurring skin hypoxia represents a previously unappreciated host promoting factor in melanomagenesis. Melanocytes that express oncogenes such as Akt, and are therefore genetically unstable, show a transform phenotype only in a mild hypoxic environment that resembles the hypoxic status of the skin. Hypoxia, therefore, is not just a prerogative of advanced neoplasia; physiologic tissue hypoxia, through the activity of HIF1alpha, can function as a promoting factor in tumorigenesis.

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