Detection of circulating melanoma cells by a two-marker polymerase chain reaction assay in relation to therapy.

Bitisik O., Camlica H., Duranyildiz D. , Tas F. , Kurul S., Dalay N.

Journal of biochemistry and molecular biology, vol.36, no.2, pp.173-8, 2003 (Journal Indexed in SCI Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 36 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Doi Number: 10.5483/bmbrep.2003.36.2.173
  • Title of Journal : Journal of biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Page Numbers: pp.173-8


Malignant melanoma is one of the most rapidly increasing cancer types, and patients with metastatic disease have a very poor prognosis. Detection of metastatic melanoma cells in circulation may aid the clinician in assessing tumor progression, metastatic potential, and response to therapy. Tyrosinase is a key enzyme in melanine biosynthesis. The gene is actively expressed in melanocytes and melanoma cells. Melan A is a differentiation antigen that is expressed in melanocytes. The presence of these molecules in blood is considered a marker for circulating melanoma cells. In this study, we analyzed the usefulness of this marker combination in evaluating the response to therapy in the blood of 30 patients with malignant melanoma. Circulating cells were detected by a reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain reaction. The tyrosinase expression was observed in 9 (30%) patients and Melan A in 19 (63.3%) patients before therapy. Following treatment, the tyrosinase mRNA was detected in only one patient, while Melan A transcripts were still present in 14 patients. We suggest that this molecular assay can identify circulating melanoma cells that express melanoma-associated antigens and may provide an early indication of therapy effectiveness.