Targeting nitric oxide signaling with nNOS inhibitors as a novel strategy for the therapy and prevention of human melanoma

Zhen Yang, Bobbye Misner, Haitao Ji, Thomas L. Poulos, Richard B. Silverman, Frank L. Meyskens, Sun Yang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Aims: Our previous studies have shown that nitric oxide (NO) plays an important role in increasing the invasion and proliferation of human melanoma cells, suggesting that targeting NO signaling may facilitate therapy and prevention. Neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) is present in melanocytes, a cell type that originates from the neural crest. The aims of this study were to determine the role of nNOS in melanoma progression and the potential antitumor effects of novel synthesized nNOS inhibitors. Results: In vitro studies demonstrated abundant expression of nNOS in melanoma compared to melanocytes, which was inducible by ultraviolet radiation and was associated with increased NO generation. nNOS was also detected in melanoma biopsies that increased with disease stage. Knockdown of nNOS in melanoma cells diminished L-arginine-induced NO production; the metastatic capacity was also reduced as well as the levels of MMP-1, Bcl-2, JunD, and APE/Ref-1. Similar inhibition of NO and invasion potential was observed utilizing novel, highly selective nNOS inhibitors. In three-dimensional human skin reconstructs, the nNOS inhibitor cpd8 effectively reversed the melanoma overgrowth stimulated by NO stress. Innovation: Our work lays the foundation for development of clinical "drug-like" nNOS inhibitors as a new and promising strategy for the chemoprevention of early melanoma progression and the inhibition of secondary melanoma in high-risk individuals. Conclusion: Based on our observations, we propose that nNOS in melanoma results in constitutive overproduction of NO, which stimulates proliferation and increases invasion potential, leading to subsequent development of metastases. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 19, 433-447.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-447
Number of pages15
JournalAntioxidants and Redox Signaling
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 10 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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