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Keywords:

  • melanoma;
  • folate receptor-α;
  • methotrexate;
  • antifolate resistance;
  • (anti)folate transport

Summary

Although methotrexate (MTX) is an effective drug for several types of cancer, it is not active against melanoma. Experiments following methotrexate treatment indicated a reduced accumulation of the drug in the cytosolic compartment in melanoma cells, suggesting that the mechanisms that control the transport and retention of this drug could be altered in melanoma. For this reason, we analyzed the presence and function of folate receptor-α (FRα) in melanoma cells. In this study, we have identified the presence of FRα in normal and pathological melanocytes and demonstrated that MTX is preferentially transported through this receptor in melanoma cells. FRα-induced endocytic transport of MTX, together with drug melanosomal sequestration and cellular exportation, ensures reduced accumulation of this cytotoxic compound in intracellular compartments. The critical role of FRα in this mechanism of resistance and the therapeutic consequences of these findings are also discussed.