Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Lidia Kos

Abstract

Melanomagenesis is influenced by environmental and genetic factors. In normal cells, ultraviolet (UV) induced photoproducts are successfully repaired by the nucleotide excision repair (NER) pathway. Mice carrying mutations in the xeroderma pigmentosum (Xp) complementation group of genes (Xpa-Xpg) lack the NER pathway and are therefore highly sensitive to UV light; however, they do not develop melanoma after UV exposure. In humans, the Endothelin 3 signaling pathway has been linked to melanoma progression and its metastatic potential. Transgenic mice that over-express Edn3 under the control of the Keratin 5 promoter (K5-Edn3) and exhibit a hyperpigmentation phenotype, were crossed with Xp deficient mice. Because melanoma is highly metastatic and many primary malignancies spread via the lymphatic system, analyzing the lymph nodes may serve useful in assessing the possible spread of tumor cells to other tissues. This study aimed to determine whether the over-expression of Edn3 is sufficient to lead to melanoma metastasis to the lymph nodes. Mice were exposed to UV radiation and analyzed for the presence of skin lesions. Mice presenting skin lesions were sacrificed and the nearest lymph nodes were excised and examined for the presence of metastasis. Mice with melanoma skin lesions presented enlarged and hyperpigmented lymph nodes. Diagnosis of melanoma was established by immunostaining with melanocyte and melanoma cell markers, and while UV radiation caused the development of skin lesions in both K5-Edn3 transgenic and control mice, only those mice carrying the K5-Edn3 transgene were found to develop melanoma metastasis to the lymph nodes. These results indicate that over-expression of Edn3 is sufficient to lead to lymph node metastasis in mice exposed to at least one dose of UV radiation.

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