Melanoma induction by ultraviolet A but not ultraviolet B radiation requires melanin pigment

Nat Commun. 2012 Jun 6;3:884. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1893.


Malignant melanoma of the skin (CMM) is associated with ultraviolet radiation exposure, but the mechanisms and even the wavelengths responsible are unclear. Here we use a mammalian model to investigate melanoma formed in response to precise spectrally defined ultraviolet wavelengths and biologically relevant doses. We show that melanoma induction by ultraviolet A (320-400 nm) requires the presence of melanin pigment and is associated with oxidative DNA damage within melanocytes. In contrast, ultraviolet B radiation (280-320 nm) initiates melanoma in a pigment-independent manner associated with direct ultraviolet B DNA damage. Thus, we identified two ultraviolet wavelength-dependent pathways for the induction of CMM and describe an unexpected and significant role for melanin within the melanocyte in melanomagenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • DNA Damage / drug effects
  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Melanins / genetics
  • Melanins / metabolism*
  • Melanocytes / drug effects*
  • Melanocytes / metabolism*
  • Melanoma / etiology*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / genetics
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Melanins