Cellular stress contributes to the capacity of melanoma cells to undergo phenotype switching into highly migratory and drug tolerant dedifferentiated states. Such dedifferentiated melanoma cell states are marked by loss of melanocyte specific gene expression and increase of mesenchymal markers. Two crucial transcription factors, MITF and SOX10, important in melanoma development and progression have been implicated in this process. In this study we describe that loss of MITF is associated with a distinct transcriptional program, MITF promoter hypermethylation and poor patient survival in metastatic melanoma. From a comprehensive collection of melanoma cell lines, we observed that MITF methylated cultures were subdivided in two distinct subtypes. Examining mRNA levels of neural crest associated genes we found that one subtype had lost the expression of several lineage genes including SOX10. Intriguingly, SOX10 loss was associated with SOX10 gene promoter hypermethylation and distinct phenotypic and metastatic properties. Depletion of SOX10 in MITF methylated melanoma cells using CRISPR/Cas9 confirmed these findings. In conclusion, this study describes the significance of melanoma state and the underlying functional properties explaining the aggressiveness of such states.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere156577
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number19
Early online date2022 Aug 30
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Oct 10

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology


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