Project Title: Investigations of the homeo-dynamic status of heterogeneous subpopulations of normal human cutaneous melanocytes: a paradigm for understanding melanoma-genesis.
Thematic Area: Melanoma & Other Skin Cancers
Focus of Research: Melanomagenesis
This project proposes to examine the molecular heterogeneity and homeo-dynamics of human melanocyte subpopulations in a multi-intercellular and micro-environmental context, and compare this with pigment cell behavior in primary and secondary melanoma tumours. An innovative element is comparison of melanoma susceptible (but apoptosis-resistant) melanocytes in epidermis with matched melanoma-resistant (but apoptosis-susceptible) melanocytes in hair follicles. The latter melanocyte subpopulations proliferate and apoptose naturally during the hair growth cycle, and there may be a physiologic barrier restricting melanoma spread into hair follicles. Hair follicles also contain melanocyte subpopulations that are preferentially deleted by redox-stress (hair graying) or by immune-mediated attack (vitiligo, alopecia areata). Using a range of molecular and cell biological in situ/ex vivo/in vitro approaches, we hope to reveal pathways that facilitate selective killing of neoplastic pigment cells to more effectively treat melanoma in patients.
Funded by: Science Foundation Ireland
PI: Prof. Desmond Tobin
Other Group/team members: Dr Cristina Casalou, Dr Jay Mayatra
Project Duration: October 2020-October 2023