BACKGROUND: Melanoma, the most lethal skin cancer type, occurs more frequently in Parkinson's disease (PD), and PD is more frequent in melanoma patients, suggesting disease mechanisms overlap. α-synuclein, a protein that accumulates in PD brain, and the oncogene DJ-1, which is associated with PD autosomal recessive forms, are both elevated in melanoma cells. Whether this indicates melanoma progression or constitutes a protective response remains unclear. We hereby investigated the molecular mechanisms through which α-synuclein and DJ-1 interact, suggesting novel biomarkers and targets in melanoma.
METHODS: The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) expression profiles derived from UCSC Xena were used to obtain α-synuclein and DJ-1 expression and correlated with survival in skin cutaneous melanoma (SKCM). Immunohistochemistry determined the expression in metastatic melanoma lymph nodes. Protein-protein interactions (PPIs) and molecular docking assessed protein binding and affinity with chemotherapeutic drugs. Further validation was performed using in vitro cellular models and ELISA immunoassays.
RESULTS: α-synuclein and DJ-1 were upregulated in primary and metastatic SKCM. Aggregated α-synuclein was selectively detected in metastatic melanoma lymph nodes. α-synuclein overexpression in SK-MEL-28 cells induced the expression of DJ-1, supporting PPI and a positive correlation in melanoma patients. Molecular docking revealed a stable protein complex, with differential binding to chemotherapy drugs such as temozolomide, dacarbazine, and doxorubicin. Parallel reduction of both proteins in temozolomide-treated SK-MEL-28 spheroids suggests drug binding may affect protein interaction and/or stability.
CONCLUSION: α-synuclein, together with DJ-1, may play a role in melanoma progression and chemosensitivity, constituting novel targets for therapeutic intervention, and possible biomarkers for melanoma.
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© 2024 The Authors. Cancer Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.