Malignant transformation of human melanocytes: Induction of a complete melanoma phenotype and genotype

Anthony P. Albino, Gabriella Sozzi, David M. Nanus, Suresh C. Jhanwar, Alan N. Houghton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human melanoma provides a model to study malignant transformation and tumor progression. Expression of ras oncogenes in cultured normal human diploid melanocytes has induced a subset of phenotypic traits that are characteristic of malignant melanoma cells, including altered morphology, anchorage independence, induction of class II MHC antigens, up-regulation of the ganglioside GD3, and chromosomal abnormalities. However, other characteristics of melanoma, such as loss of expression of adenosine deaminase-binding protein and tumorigenicity, were not observed. We report here that melanocytes infected with a retrovirus containing the viral Ha-ras oncogene underwent complete transformation, acquiring all phenotypic characteristics of malignant melanomas observed in vivo. Transformation occurred in a sequential manner and was associated with spontaneous chromosomal instability. Cytogenetic analysis of transformed melanocytes indicated that the earliest structural chromosomal abnormalities were isochromosomes 6p and 9q followed by complete loss of chromosome 1p, all common karyotypic abnormalities described in human melanomas. The findings suggest that these chromosome regions which are deleted or relatively deficient may contain genes that are critical for the initiation and progression of the melanoma phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2315-2321
Number of pages7
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics


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