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Colin Goding’s lab study the expression of ABCB5, with implications for drug resistance

To understand melanoma disease progression and the response to therapy, it is helpful to define markers of the different disease states. The ABCB5 transporter has been implicated in drug resistance in melanoma and has also been used as a marker of slow cycling melanoma-initiating cells, although its use for this purpose has remained controversial. In this article published in Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research, Pakavarin Louphrasitthiphol and Jagat Chauhan from Prof. Colin Goding’s lab investigate the expression of ABCB5 further. The researchers found that ABCB5 is activated by the melanoma master regulator MITF. Since MITF is itself associated with melanoma differentiation rather than melanoma-initiating cells, this result further questions the use of ABCB5 as a marker of the melanoma-initiating cell population. Additionally, the expression of ABCB5 in differentiated melanoma cells may contribute to drug resistance in this population.