Vijay Setaluri, PHD

Position title: Professor, Dermatology


Phone: 608-263-5362

Organ System/Disease Focus:
Skin, melanoma
Aligned Research Focus:
Tumor stem cells
Vijay Setaluri Headshot


More information:
Research Description:

Tumor heterogeneity is a significant challenge in prognosis and management of patients with cancer. This problem is acute in melanoma skin cancer, which is thought to arise from the neural crest-derived, differentiated melanocytes in the skin.

Melanomas display characteristics of differentiation along a variety of cell types including neuronal cells. Two hypotheses have been proposed to explain this heterogeneity:

1. dedifferentiation of malignant melanocyte and transdifferentiation, and

2. malignant transformation of pluripotent skin resident (neural crest) stem cells that retain plasticity to differentiate along multiple pathways.

Support for the latter possibility has been gaining steadily since the discovery and description of human cancer cells bearing stem cell properties. Based on the consensus definition of a cancer stem cell as a cell within a tumor that is able to self-renew and promote heterogeneous lineages of cancer cells that make up the tumor, our data on the heterogeneity and neuronal differentiation of melanoma also points to involvement of stem cells in the development of melanoma.

Selected References:
  • Bhat KMR, Maddodi N, Shashikant C, Setaluri V. Transcriptional regulation of human MAP2 gene in melanoma: role of neuronal bHLH factors and Notch1 signaling. Nucleic Acids Research 34(13):3819-3832. 2006.
  • Soltani MH, Pichardo R, Song Z, Sangha N, Satyamoorthy K, Sangueza O, Setaluri V. Microtubule-associated protein 2, a marker of neuronal differentiation, induces mitotic defects, inhibits growth of melanoma cells and predicts metastatic potential of cutaneous melanoma. American Journal of Pathology, 166:1841-1850. 2005.
  • Fang D, Hallman J, Hammarback J, Kute TE, White W, Setaluri V. Expression of microtubule associated protein 2 in benign and malignant melanocytes: implication for differentiation and progression of cutaneous melanoma. American Journal of Pathology 158:2107-2117. 2001.