Understanding Signaling Cascades in Melanoma


  • This paper is part of a special issue dedicated to Professor Hasan Mukhtar on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

*Corresponding author email: ronai@burnham.org (Ze’ev Ronai)


Understanding regulatory pathways involved in melanoma development and progression has advanced significantly in recent years. It is now appreciated that melanoma is the result of complex changes in multiple signaling pathways that affect growth control, metabolism, motility and the ability to escape cell death programs. Here we review the major signaling pathways currently known to be deregulated in melanoma with an implication to its development and progression. Among these pathways are Ras, B-Raf, MEK, PTEN, phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3Ks) and Akt which are constitutively activated in a significant number of melanoma tumors, in most cases due to genomic change. Other pathways discussed in this review include the [Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK/STAT), transforming growth factor-β pathways which are also activated in melanoma, although the underlying mechanism is not yet clear. As a paradigm for remodeled signaling pathways, melanoma also offers a unique opportunity for targeted drug development.