The causative link between UV exposure and melanoma development is well known, however the mechanistic relationship remains incompletely characterised. UVA and UVB components of sunlight are implicated in melanomagenesis; however the majority of studies have focused on the effects of UVB and UVC light. Interestingly, melanoma tumour sequencing has revealed an overrepresentation of mutations signature of unrepaired UV-induced DNA damage. Repair of UVA-induced DNA damage is thought to occur primarily through the Nucleotide Excision Repair (NER) pathway, which recognises and repairs damage either coupled to transcription (Transcription Coupled Repair; TCR), or through global genome scanning (Global Genome Repair; GGR). Current literature suggests NER is deficient in melanoma, however the cause of this remains unknown; and whether reduced NER activity in response to UVA may be involved in melanoma development remains uncharacterised. In this study we aimed to determine if melanoma cells exhibit reduced levels of NER activity in response to UVA.
Melanocyte and melanoma cell lines were UVA-irradiated, and DNA damage levels assessed by immunodetection of Cyclobutane Pyrimidine Dimer (CPD) and (6-4) Photoproduct [(6-4)PP] lesions. Expression of NER pathway components and p53 following UVA treatment was quantified by qPCR and western blot.
UVA did not induce detectable induction of (6-4)PP lesions, consistent with previous studies. Repair of CPDs induced by UVA was initiated at 4 h and complete within 48 h in normal melanocytes, whereas repair initiation was delayed to 24 h and >40 % of lesions remained in melanoma cell lines at 48 h. This was coupled with a delayed and reduced induction of GGR component XPC in melanoma cells, independent of p53.
These findings support that NER activity is reduced in melanoma cells due to deficient GGR. Further investigation into the role of NER in UVA-induced melanomagenesis is warranted and may have implications for melanoma treatment.