Intrinsic Balance between ZEB Family Members Is Important for Melanocyte Homeostasis and Melanoma Progression
It has become clear that cellular plasticity is a main driver of cancer therapy resistance. Consequently, there is a need to mechanistically identify the factors driving this process. The transcription factors of the zinc-finger E-box-binding homeobox family, consisting of ZEB1 and ZEB2, are notorious for their roles in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). However, in melanoma, an intrinsic balance between ZEB1 and ZEB2 seems to determine the cellular state by modulating the expression
... ng the expression of the master regulator of melanocyte homeostasis, microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF). ZEB2 drives MITF expression and is associated with a differentiated/proliferative melanoma cell state. On the other hand, ZEB1 is correlated with low MITF expression and a more invasive, stem cell-like and therapy-resistant cell state. This intrinsic balance between ZEB1 and ZEB2 could prove to be a promising therapeutic target for melanoma patients. In this review, we will summarise what is known on the functional mechanisms of these transcription factors. Moreover, we will look specifically at their roles during melanocyte-lineage development and homeostasis. Finally, we will overview the current literature on ZEB1 and ZEB2 in the melanoma context and link this to the 'phenotype-switching' model of melanoma cellular plasticity.