The Ras/ERK (extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase) and cAMP/PKA (protein kinase A) pathways are essential for the transcriptional activities of CREB (cAMP response element binding protein) and MITF (microphthalmia-associated transcription factor) in melanogenesis and the progression of melanoma. However, the interaction between Ras/ERK and cAMP/PKA pathways in the melanogenesis and progression of melanoma is not fully known. Here, we report that CSE1L (chromosome segregation 1-like protein) regulates cAMP/PKA-induced CREB and MITF expressions as well as Ras-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation. IBMX, a cAMP/PKA activator, treatment induced CSE1L phosphorylation and augmented Ras-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation. CSE1L knockdown by CSE1L shRNA expression vectors inhibited Ras-induced ERK1/2 phosphorylation and melanogenesis in melanoma cells. CSE1L overexpression increased phospho-CREB expression; CSE1L knockdown also inhibited Ras-induced phospho-CREB, MITF, and tyrosinase expressions, regardless of the presence of IBMX. This study identifies CSE1L links and controls the Ras/ERK and cAMP/PKA pathways in the melanogenesis of melanoma cells. Melanomas frequently develop drug resistance via paradoxical activation of Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK or alternatively activated Ras/ERK and cAMP/PKA pathways. Thus CSE1L may be a potential target for treating melanomas that harbor Ras mutations or are resistant to drugs targeting Raf/MEK/ERK.
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