Expression Signatures of Early-stage and Advanced Medaka Melanomas
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Melanoma is one of the most aggressive tumors with a very low survival rate once metastasized. The incidence of newly detected cases increases every year suggesting the necessity of development and application of innovative treatment strategies. Human melanoma develops from melanocytes localized in the epidermis of the skin to malignant tumors because of deregulated effectors influencing several molecular pathways. Despite many advances in describing the molecular changes accompanying melanoma formation, many critical and clinically relevant molecular features of the transformed pigment cells and the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. To contribute to a better understanding of the molecular processes of melanoma formation, we use a transgenic medaka melanoma model that is well suited for the investigation of melanoma tumor development because fish and human melanocytes are both localized in the epidermis. The purpose of our study was to gain insights into melanoma development from the first steps of tumor formation up to melanoma progression and to identify gene expression patterns that will be useful for monitoring treatment effects in drug screening approaches. Comparing transcriptomes from juvenile fish at the tumor initiating stage with nevi and advanced melanoma of adults, we identified stage specific expression signatures and pathways that are characteristic for the development of medaka melanoma, and are also found in human malignancies.