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Loss of expression of surface antigens represents a significant problem for cancer immunotherapy. Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF-M) regulates melanocyte fate by driving expression of many differentiation genes, whose protein products can be recognized by cytolytic T lymphocytes. We previously reported that interleukin-1ß (IL-1ß) can downregulate MITF-M levels. Here we show that downregulation of MITF-M expression by IL-1ß was paralleled by an upregulation of miR-155 expression in four melanoma lines. We confirmed that miR-155 was able to target endogenous MITF-M in melanoma cells and demonstrated a role for miR-155 in the IL-1ß-induced repression of MITF-M by using an antagomiR. Notably, we also observed a strong negative correlation between MITF-M and miR-155 levels in a mouse model of melanoma. Taken together, our results indicate that MITF-M downregulation by inflammatory stimuli might be partly due to miR-155 upregulation. This could represent a novel mechanism of melanoma immune escape in an inflammatory microenvironment.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Animals, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Humans, Immunotherapy, Interleukin-1beta, Melanoma, Mice, MicroRNAs, Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor