From Proteomic Mapping to Invasion-Metastasis-Cascade Systemic Biomarkering and Targeted Drugging of Mutant BRAF-Dependent Human Cutaneous Melanomagenesis

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Apr 22;13(9):2024. doi: 10.3390/cancers13092024.


Melanoma is classified among the most notoriously aggressive human cancers. Despite the recent progress, due to its propensity for metastasis and resistance to therapy, novel biomarkers and oncogenic molecular drivers need to be promptly identified for metastatic melanoma. Hence, by employing nano liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry deep proteomics technology, advanced bioinformatics algorithms, immunofluorescence, western blotting, wound healing protocols, molecular modeling programs, and MTT assays, we comparatively examined the respective proteomic contents of WM115 primary (n = 3955 proteins) and WM266-4 metastatic (n = 6681 proteins) melanoma cells. It proved that WM115 and WM266-4 cells have engaged hybrid epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition/mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition states, with TGF-β controlling their motility in vitro. They are characterized by different signatures of SOX-dependent neural crest-like stemness and distinct architectures of the cytoskeleton network. Multiple signaling pathways have already been activated from the primary melanoma stage, whereas HIF1α, the major hypoxia-inducible factor, can be exclusively observed in metastatic melanoma cells. Invasion-metastasis cascade-specific sub-routines of activated Caspase-3-triggered apoptosis and LC3B-II-dependent constitutive autophagy were also unveiled. Importantly, WM115 and WM266-4 cells exhibited diverse drug response profiles, with epirubicin holding considerable promise as a beneficial drug for metastatic melanoma clinical management. It is the proteome navigation that enables systemic biomarkering and targeted drugging to open new therapeutic windows for advanced disease.

Keywords: BRAF; IMC; LC-MS/MS; WM115; WM266-4; biomarker; cancer; melanoma; metastasis; proteomics.