Spatial and Temporal Control of Murine Melanoma Initiation from Mutant Melanocyte Stem Cells

* These authors contributed equally
This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Cutaneous melanoma is well known as the most aggressive skin cancer. Although the risk factors and major genetic alterations continue to be documented with increasing depth, the incidence rate of cutaneous melanoma has shown a rapid and continuous increase during recent decades. In order to find effective preventative methods, it is important to understand the early steps of melanoma initiation in the skin. Previous data has demonstrated that follicular melanocyte stem cells (MCSCs) in the adult skin tissues can act as melanoma cells of origin when expressing oncogenic mutations and genetic alterations. Tumorigenesis arising from melanoma-prone MCSCs can be induced when MCSCs transition from a quiescent to active state. This transition in melanoma-prone MCSCs can be promoted by the modulation of either hair follicle stem cells' activity state or through extrinsic environmental factors such as ultraviolet-B (UV-B). These factors can be artificially manipulated in the laboratory by chemical depilation, which causes transition of hair follicle stem cells and MCSCs from a quiescent to active state, and by UV-B exposure using a benchtop light. These methods provide successful spatial and temporal control of cutaneous melanoma initiation in the murine dorsal skin. Therefore, these in vivo model systems will be valuable to define the early steps of cutaneous melanoma initiation and could be used to test potential methods for tumor prevention.