Targeting MC1R depalmitoylation to prevent melanomagenesis in redheads

Nat Commun. 2019 Feb 20;10(1):877. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-08691-3.


Some genetic melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) variants responsible for human red hair color (RHC-variants) are consequently associated with increased melanoma risk. Although MC1R signaling is critically dependent on its palmitoylation primarily mediated by the ZDHHC13 protein-acyl transferase, whether increasing MC1R palmitoylation represents a viable therapeutic target to limit melanomagenesis in redheads is unknown. Here we identify a specific and efficient in vivo strategy to induce MC1R palmitoylation for therapeutic benefit. We validate the importance of ZDHHC13 to MC1R signaling in vivo by targeted expression of ZDHHC13 in C57BL/6J-MC1RRHC mice and subsequently inhibit melanomagenesis. By identifying APT2 as the MC1R depalmitoylation enzyme, we are able to demonstrate that administration of the selective APT2 inhibitor ML349 treatment efficiently increases MC1R signaling and represses UVB-induced melanomagenesis in vitro and in vivo. Targeting APT2, therefore, represents a preventive/therapeutic strategy to reduce melanoma risk, especially in individuals with red hair.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acyltransferases / genetics
  • Acyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis / pathology*
  • Cell Line
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Hair Color
  • Humans
  • Lipoylation / physiology*
  • Melanocytes
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • Melanoma / prevention & control*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 1 / genetics
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Thiolester Hydrolases / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • MC1R protein, human
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 1
  • Acyltransferases
  • ZDHHC13 protein, human
  • LYPLA2 protein, human
  • Thiolester Hydrolases