Unraveling the molecular nature of melanin changes in metastatic cancer.
More people die from melanoma after a stage I diagnosis than after a stage IV diagnosis, because the tools available to clinicians do not readily identify which early-stage cancers will be aggressive. Near-infrared pump-probe microscopy detects fundamental differences in melanin structure between benign human moles and melanoma and also correlates with metastatic potential. However, the biological mechanisms of these changes have been difficult to quantify, as many different mechanisms can contribute to the pump-probe signal. We use model systems (sepia, squid, and synthetic eumelanin), cellular uptake studies, and a range of pump and probe wavelengths to demonstrate that the clinically observed effects come from alterations of the aggregated mode from "thick oligomer stacks" to "thin oligomer stacks" (due to changes in monomer composition) and (predominantly) deaggregation of the assembled melanin structure. This provides the opportunity to use pump-probe microscopy for the detection and study of melanin-associated diseases.
Ju, K-Y; Degan, S; Fischer, MC; Zhou, KC; Jia, X; Yu, J; Warren, WS
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