Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 191–196 | Cite as

Crosstalk in skin: melanocytes, keratinocytes, stem cells, and melanoma

  • Joshua X. Wang
  • Mizuho Fukunaga-Kalabis
  • Meenhard Herlyn


In the vertebrate embryo, melanocytes arise from the neural crest, migrate to and colonize the basal layer within the skin and skin appendages. Post-migratory melanocytes are securely attached to the basement membrane, and their morphology, growth, adhesion, and migration are under control of neighboring keratinocytes. Melanoma is a malignant tumor originated from melanocytes or their progenitor cells. During melanocyte transformation and melanoma progression, melanocytes lose their interactions with keratinocytes, resulting in uncontrolled proliferation and invasion of the malignant cells. Melanoma cells at the advanced stages often lack melanocytic features and resemble multipotent progenitors, which are a potential melanocyte reservoir in human skin. In this mini-review, we will summarize findings on cell-cell interactions that are responsible for normal melanocyte homeostasis, stem cell self-renewal, and differentiation. Our ultimate goal is to define molecules and pathways, which are essential for normal cell-cell interactions but deregulated in melanoma formation and progression.


Melanocyte Melanoma Stem cell Keratiocyte Cell-cell interaction 



Writing of this commentary was supported in part by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers P50CA174523, P30CA10815, P01CA114046, R01CA182890, R21CA191742 and the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation.


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Copyright information

© The International CCN Society 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Wistar InstitutePhiladelphiaUSA

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