Date of Award

Spring 4-18-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Lidia Kos, PhD

Abstract

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Melanoma is a particular type of skin cancer, which arises from the malignant transformation of melanocytes and generally exhibits a high propensity to metastasize. Melanoma progression is dependent on angiogenesis to deliver the oxygen and nutrients required to maintain the altered metabolism of rapidly proliferating tumorigenic cells. Recent studies have implicated the growth factor Endothelin 3 (Edn3) in melanoma progression and metastasis. The aim of this study was to examine the role that Edn3 plays in the angiogenesis of melanocytic lesions. For this purpose, Dct-Grm1 transgenic mice, which spontaneously acquire melanocytic lesions through the aberrant expression of the metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (mGluR1), were crossed with K5-Edn3 transgenic mice that overexpress Edn3. Tumors in the Dct-Grm1/K5-Edn3 experimental population were examined and compared to the control Dct-Grm1 population using immuno-fluorescent staining targeted against the vascular endothelial cell marker CD31. Proteomic arrays were also used and identified changes in the expression of specific angiogenic factors. CD31 antibody staining results revealed an increased vascular density in Dct-Grm1/K5-Edn3 tumors compared with tumors from the Dct-Grm1 controls. Analysis of the relative expression of angiogenic proteins showed an upregulation of various vascular factors in tumors from the Dct-Grm1/K5-Edn3 population, including VEGF-B, MMP-8, MMP-9, and Angiogenin. These results suggest that endothelin signaling promotes angiogenesis in melanocytic lesions. Targeting the factors upregulated by Edn3 signaling may prove effective in hindering melanoma progression.

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