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Identification of DNA repair gene Ercc1 as a novel target in melanoma


D. W. Melton, e-mail:


Increased expression of DNA repair genes contributes to the extreme resistance shown by melanoma to conventional DNA-damaging chemotherapeutics. One such chemotherapeutic effective against a range of other cancers, but not melanoma, is cisplatin. The DNA repair protein, ERCC1, is needed to remove cisplatin-induced DNA damage. We have shown that ERCC1 is essential for melanoma growth and resistance to cisplatin in a mouse xenograft model. Untreated xenografts of our transformed Ercc1-proficient melanocyte cell line grew very rapidly as malignant melanoma. Cisplatin treatment caused initial shrinkage of xenografts, but cisplatin-resistant regrowth soon followed. Cells reisolated into culture had twofold elevated levels of ERCC1 compared to both input cells and cells reisolated from untreated xenografts. An isogenic Ercc1-deficient derivative grew equally well in vitro as the Ercc1-proficient melanocyte cell line. However, in xenografts, the Ercc1-deficient melanomas were much slower to establish and were completely cured by just two cisplatin treatments.