• immunotoxin;
  • melanoma/skin cancer;
  • effectors of apoptosis;
  • antibodies


Malignant melanomas are generally drug resistant and have a very poor prognosis. We have studied the effects of a chemical conjugate of pseudomonas exotoxin A (PE) and the antibody 9.2.27, which recognizes the high molecular weight melanoma associated antigen (HMW-MAA) expressed in most malignant melanomas and melanoma cell lines. We demonstrate that the 9.2.27PE immunotoxin (IT) induces cell death in malignant melanoma cells through protein synthesis inhibition followed by some morphological and biochemical features of apoptosis, like rounding up of cells, chromatin condensation and inactivation of PARP. Unlike previous results with the 425.3PE IT in breast cancer cells, we detected no depolarization of the mitochondrial membrane after 9.2.27PE IT treatment. This is likely due to the lack of strong activation of caspase-8 and caspase-3. The lack of depolarization suggests that cytochrome c, a molecule that triggers activation of caspase-3, was retained within the mitochondria. In addition, the protein level of the antiapoptotic Bcl-2 did not decrease in contrast to other antiapoptotic molecules belonging to the inhibitor of apoptosis and the Bcl-2 family. This suggests that Bcl-2 may play a role in maintaining the mitochondrial membrane integrity in the 9.2.27PE-treated cells. Nevertheless, 9.2.27PE IT efficiently killed malignant melanoma cells that can be ascribed to inhibition of protein synthesis followed by some morphological and biochemical features of apoptosis. © 2009 UICC