During the process of oncogenic transformation, melanoma cells escape from normal growth-control mechanisms and acquire the ability to invade surrounding tissues and organs. The Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathway is a major pathway involved in the control of growth signals, cell survival and invasion. Melanomas are known to harbour activating mutations of both Ras and BRAF, suggesting that the downstream effector ERK may be playing a major role in the oncogenic behaviour of these tumours. The past few years have seen a growth in the understanding of the role of ERK and the MAP kinase pathway in melanoma. The aim of the current review is to assess the role of ERK in melanoma behaviour and to determine whether modulation of these kinases could offer new therapeutic opportunities.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.