Project Details


Cutaneous melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer that originates from specialized pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. Despite preventive campaigns and medical advances in treatments, melanoma remains an incurable disease. Historically, cancer has been studied at the DNA level and key mutations of the DNA sequence have been linked to melanoma biology. However, these alterations in gene products cannot entirely explain the processes that cause melanocytes to grow out of control and gain the potential to spread through the body - both hallmarks of cancer. It is now clear that chromatin factors (the proteins that package DNA) are important in cancer development as well. Unfortunately, these chromatin-associated mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here we propose to use sophisticated chromatin-based methods to identify ‘enhancer regulatory elements' in melanoma – these elements are important for regulating genes during human development as well as in cancer. In fact, recent studies in other cancers (such as leukemia), have utilized similar enhancer studies to identify known as well as novel genes that are important for promoting cancer. The proposed study aims to characterize enhancer elements genome-wide using innovative chromatin and computational approaches, and we will do so using cells derived directly from human tissues that closely resemble the tumor biology. Using normal melanocytes as a control for these studies, we will elucidate the genes that enhancers control in the development of malignant melanoma. These studies will lead to the identification of new factors that promote melanoma – an instrumental step in the development of novel targeted treatment strategies for this disease.
Effective start/end date1/01/15 → …


  • Melanoma Research Alliance


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