Identification of a ZEB2-MITF-ZEB1 transcriptional network that controls melanogenesis and melanoma progression

G Denecker, N Vandamme, O Akay, D Koludrovic, J Taminau, K Lemeire, A Gheldof, B De Craene, M Van Gele, L Brochez, GM Udupi, M Rafferty, B Balint, WM Gallagher, G Ghanem, Danny Huylebroeck, J Haigh, J van den Oord, L Larue, I DavidsonJC Marine, G Berx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

124 Citations (Scopus)


Deregulation of signaling pathways that control differentiation, expansion and migration of neural crest-derived melanoblasts during normal development contributes also to melanoma progression and metastasis. Although several epithelial-to-mesenchymal (EMT) transcription factors, such as zinc finger E-box binding protein 1 (ZEB1) and ZEB2, have been implicated in neural crest cell biology, little is known about their role in melanocyte homeostasis and melanoma. Here we show that mice lacking Zeb2 in the melanocyte lineage exhibit a melanoblast migration defect and, unexpectedly, a severe melanocyte differentiation defect. Loss of Zeb2 in the melanocyte lineage results in a downregulation of the Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (Mitf) and melanocyte differentiation markers concomitant with an upregulation of Zeb1. We identify a transcriptional signaling network in which the EMT transcription factor ZEB2 regulates MITF levels to control melanocyte differentiation. Moreover, our data are also relevant for human melanomagenesis as loss of ZEB2 expression is associated with reduced patient survival.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1250-1261
Number of pages12
JournalCell Death & Differentiation
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Cite this