Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

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An Integrin-Based Mechanism for Sensitizing Melanomas to Therapies
by Sun, Xiaowen, Ph.D., The University of Iowa, 2015, 117; 10186233
Abstract (Summary)

Metastatic melanoma is unusually lethal with a ten year survival rate of less than 10%. Conventional DNA-damaging agents produce little improvement in patient survival. Vemurafenib (Zelboraf), a targeted therapeutic that inhibits the oncogenic BRAF demonstrates significant survival benefit. Unfortunately, it is now evident that there is both intrinsic and acquired resistance. Consequently, new strategies for sensitizing melanomas to vemurafenib are needed. Melanoma resistance to therapy is fueled in part by the integrins, the major cell surface adhesion receptors which are highly over-expressed in melanoma. Both integrin antagonists and agents that engage defective integrins increase the sensitivity of melanomas to chemotherapy. Our laboratory has identified a novel peptide, denoted vinculin activating peptide or VAP that targets integrins from within the cell and brings aberrant integrin function intact. VAP sensitizes melanoma to dacarbazine in vitro and in vivo. The effect VAP has on overcoming resistance to targeted therapies like vemurafenib, as well as the mechanism for its effects are not well understood. The goals of this project are to determine if VAP can be employed to improve sensitivity and/or overcome resistance to vemurafenib and to identify the cell surface target of VAP. Our results show that VAP not only improves melanoma sensitivity to vemurafenib but also decreases intrinsic resistance to this promising drug. In addition, we present evidence that β1 and β3 integrins are the target of VAP's effects. Since peptide-based therapies are not stable in the clinic, we explored another integrin binding partner, kindlin-2. We found that kindlin-2 is over expressed in resistant melanomas. The inhibition of kindlin-2 increases β1 integrin activation and decreases β3 integrin functions. Agents that bring aberrant β1 and β3 integrin function intact can be employed to improve sensitivity and overcome resistance to vemurafenib suggesting that combinatorial therapies that employ vemurafenib and integrin-based agents might be efficacious in combatting resistance in melanoma patients.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: DeMali, Kris A.
Commitee: Domann, Federick E., Goel, Apollina, Koland, John G., Milhem, Mohammed M.
School: The University of Iowa
Department: Molecular & Cell Biology
School Location: United States -- Iowa
Source: DAI-B 80/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cellular biology, Biochemistry
Keywords: Cell adhesion, Integrins, Kindlin, Melanoma, Resistance, Vemurafenib
Publication Number: 10186233
ISBN: 9780438381506
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