Lipid storage and autophagy in melanoma cancer cells

Claudia Giampietri, Simonetta Petrungaro, Martina Cordella, Claudio Tabolacci, Luana Tomaipitinca, Antonio Facchiano, Adriana Eramo, Antonio Filippini, Francesco Facchiano, Elio Ziparo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cancer stem cells (CSC) represent a key cellular subpopulation controlling biological features such as cancer progression in all cancer types. By using melanospheres established from human melanoma patients, we compared less differentiated melanosphere-derived CSC to differentiatingmelanosphere-derived cells. Increased lipid uptakewas found inmelanosphere-derived CSC vs. differentiating melanosphere-derived cells, paralleled by strong expression of lipogenic factors Sterol Regulatory Element-Binding Protein-1 (SREBP-1) and Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor-γ(PPAR-γ). An inverse relation between lipid-storing phenotype and autophagy was also found, since microtubule-associated protein 1A/1B-Light Chain 3 (LC3) lipidation is reduced in melanosphere-derived CSC. To investigate upstream autophagy regulators, Phospho-AMP activated Protein Kinase (P-AMPK) and Phospho-mammalian Target of Rapamycin (P-mTOR) were analyzed; lower P-AMPK and higher P-mTOR expression in melanosphere-derived CSC were found, thus explaining, at least in part, their lower autophagic activity. In addition, co-localization of LC3-stained autophagosome spots and perilipin-stained lipid droplets was demonstrated mainly in differentiating melanosphere-derived cells, further supporting the role of autophagy in lipid droplets clearance. The present manuscript demonstrates an inverse relationship between lipid-storing phenotype and melanoma stem cells differentiation, providing novel indications involving autophagy in melanoma stem cells biology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1271
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 2017


  • Autophagy
  • Lipids
  • Melanoma
  • Stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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