Research Papers:

Damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) activation in melanoma: investigation of the immunogenic activity of 15-deoxy, Δ12,14 prostamide J2

Ahmed Elhassanny, Rene Escobedo, Daniel Ladin, Colin Burns and Rukiyah Van Dross _

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Oncotarget. 2020; 11:4788-4802. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27856

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Ahmed Elhassanny1, Rene Escobedo1, Daniel Ladin2, Colin Burns3 and Rukiyah Van Dross1,3,4

1 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA

2 Medical Doctor Program, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA

3 Department of Chemistry, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA

4 Center for Health Disparities, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA

Correspondence to:

Rukiyah Van Dross,email: [email protected]

Keywords: calreticulin; endoplasmic reticulum stress; dendritic cells; endocannabinoid metabolite

Received: September 29, 2020     Accepted: December 16, 2020     Published: December 29, 2020

Copyright: © 2020 Elhassanny et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Metastatic melanoma is the most deadly skin neoplasm in the United States. Outcomes for this lethal disease have improved dramatically due to the use of both targeted and immunostimulatory drugs. Immunogenic cell death (ICD) has emerged as another approach for initiating antitumor immunity. ICD is triggered by tumor cells that display damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). These DAMP molecules recruit and activate dendritic cells (DCs) that present tumor-specific antigens to T cells which eliminate neoplastic cells. Interestingly, the expression of DAMP molecules occurs in an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-dependent manner. We have previously shown that ER stress was required for the cytotoxic activity of the endocannabinoid metabolite, 15-deoxy, Δ12,14 prostamide J2 (15dPMJ2). As such, the current study investigates whether 15dPMJ2 induces DAMP signaling in melanoma. In B16F10 cells, 15dPMJ2 caused a significant increase in the cell surface expression of calreticulin (CRT), the release of ATP and the secretion of high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), three molecules that serve as surrogate markers of ICD. 15dPMJ2 also stimulated the cell surface expression of the DAMP molecules, heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) and Hsp90. In addition, the display of CRT and ATP was increased by 15dPMJ2 to a greater extent in tumorigenic compared to non-tumorigenic melanocytes. Consistent with this finding, the activation of bone marrow-derived DCs was upregulated in co-cultures with 15dPMJ2-treated tumor compared to non-tumor melanocytes. Moreover, 15dPMJ2-mediated DAMP exposure and DC activation required the electrophilic cyclopentenone double bond within the structure of 15dPMJ2 and the ER stress pathway. These results demonstrate that 15dPMJ2 is a tumor-selective inducer of DAMP signaling in melanoma.

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