Differentiation programs active during melanoma development
Starting from embryonic stem cells, developmental programs lead to the formation of all organs in the human body. This implies that cellular differentiation mechanisms are powerful determinators of cellular fate. The reactivation of these conserved developmental programs, like EMT (Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition), during and after pathologic events, has profound impact on the outcome of disease. Focussing on cancer, de-differentiation along with tumor progression can be observed. In particular our research has shown that melanoma cells loose differentiation and at the same time gain cancer specific characteristics.