PPP6C, a serine-threonine phosphatase, regulates melanocyte differentiation and contributes to melanoma tumorigenesis through modulation of MITF activity

Carolyn R. Maskin, Renuka Raman, Yariv Houvras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

It is critical to understand the molecular mechanisms governing the regulation of MITF, a lineage specific transcription factor in melanocytes and an oncogene in melanoma. We identified PPP6C, a serine/threonine phosphatase, as a key regulator of MITF in melanoma. PPP6C is the only recurrently mutated serine/threonine phosphatase across all human cancers identified in sequencing studies and the recurrent R264C mutation occurs exclusively in melanoma. Using a zebrafish developmental model system, we demonstrate that PPP6C expression disrupts melanocyte differentiation. Melanocyte disruption was rescued by engineering phosphomimetic mutations at serine residues on MITF. We developed an in vivo MITF promoter assay in zebrafish and studied the effects of PPP6C(R264C) on regulating MITF promoter activity. Expression of PPP6C(R264C) cooperated with oncogenic NRAS(Q61K) to accelerate melanoma initiation in zebrafish, consistent with a gain of function alteration. Using a human melanoma cell line, we examined the requirement for PPP6C in proliferation and MITF expression. We show that genetic inactivation of PPP6C increases MITF and target gene expression, decreases sensitivity to BRAF inhibition, and increases phosphorylated MITF in a BRAF(V600E) mutant melanoma cell line. Our data suggests that PPP6C may be a relevant drug target in melanoma and proposes a mechanism for its action.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5573
JournalScientific Reports
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

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