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Institute of Anatomy

"Epigenetic control of melanoma cell invasiveness by the stem cell factor SALL4"

Open access publication in Nature Communications

The group of Prof. Lukas Sommer published their exciting findings on the role of the embryonic stem cell factor spalt-like transcription factor 4 (SALL4)  in the development of melanoma. This beautiful work is a result of a fruitful collaboration with researchers from the UZH Department of Molecular Mechanisms of Disease, the Department of Molecular Life Sciences, the USZ Department of Dermatology, and from international research institutions

There have been long indications that developmental programs are used by cells for the initiation and progression of cancer. This study shows that SALL4 can switch melanoma phenotype in a surprising way. On one hand, upregulation of Sall4 is crucial to sustain melanoma tumor growth. On the other hand, SALL4 suppresses invasiveness genes through an epigenetic silencing mechanism. 

This research came about as part of the Zurich University Research Priority Program ‘‘Translational Cancer Research" and received additional funding from the UZH Candoc Forschungskredit, the Swiss National Science Foundation, and the Swiss Cancer Research Foundation among others.