Exploiting tyrosinase expression and activity in melanocytic tumors: Quercetin and the central role of p53

Ashley J. Vargas, Sivanandane Sittadjody, Thilakavathy Thangasamy, Erin E. Mendoza, Kirsten H. Limesand, Randy Burd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Melanoma is an aggressive tumor that expresses the pigmentation enzyme tyrosinase. Tyrosinase expression increases during tumorigenesis, which could allow for selective treatment of this tumor type by strategies that use tyrosinase activity. Approaches targeting tyrosinase would involve gene transcription or signal transduction pathways mediated by p53 in a direct or indirect manner. Two pathways are proposed for exploiting tyrosinase expression: (a) a p53-dependent pathway leading to apoptosis or arrest and (b) a reactive oxygen species-mediated induction of endoplasmic reticulum stress in p53 mutant tumors. Both strategies could use tyrosinase-mediated activation of quercetin, a dietary polyphenol that induces the expression of p53 and modulates reactive oxygen species. In addition to antitumor signaling properties, activation of quercetin could complement conventional cancer therapy by the induction of phase II detoxification enzymes resulting in p53 stabilization and transduction of its downstream targets. In conclusion, recent advances in tyrosinase enzymology, prodrug chemistry, and modern chemotherapeutics present an intriguing and selective multitherapy targeting system where dietary bioflavonoids could be used to complement conventional cancer treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-340
Number of pages13
JournalIntegrative Cancer Therapies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • melanoma
  • neuroblastoma
  • p53
  • quercetin
  • tyrosinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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