Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Cancer Biology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Elizabeth A. Grimm

Committee Member

Dr. Russell R. Broaddus

Committee Member

Dr. Nancy J. Poindexter

Committee Member

Dr. Victoria P. Knutson

Committee Member

Dr. Alexander J.F. Lazar


Melanoma is known to be highly resistant to chemotherapy. Treatment with high dose IL-2 has shown significant clinical benefit in a minority of metastatic melanoma patients and has lead to long term survival in a few cases. However, this treatment is associated with excessive multiorgan toxicities, which severely limits its use. We hypothesize that one mechanism of effective IL-2 therapy is through the direct upregulation of IL-24 production in melanoma tumors and subsequent IL-24 mediated tumor growth suppression.

Five melanoma cell lines were treated with high dose recombinant hIL-2 at 1000U/ml. Three of the cell lines (A375, WM1341, WM793) showed statistically significant increases in their levels of IL-24 protein when measured by Western blotting, while the remaining two lines (WM35, MeWo) remained negative for IL-24 message and protein. This increase in IL-24 was abolished by either preincubating with an anti-IL-2 antibody or by blocking the IL-2 receptor directly with antibodies against the receptor chains. We also demonstrated by ELISA that these three cell lines secrete IL-24 protein in higher amounts when stimulated with IL-2 than do untreated cells. These cells were found to contain IL-2R beta and gamma message by RT-PCR and also expressed higher levels of IL-24 when treated with IL-15, which shares the IL-2R beta chain. Thus we propose that IL-2 is signaling through IL-2R beta on some melanoma cells to upregulate IL-24 protein expression. To address the biological function of IL-2 in melanoma cells, five cell lines were treated with IL-2 and cell viability determined. Cell growth was found to be significantly decreased by day 4 in the IL-24 positive cell lines while no effect on growth was seen in WM35 or MeWo. Incubating the cells with anti-IL-24 antibody or transfecting with IL-24 siRNA effectively negated the growth suppression seen with IL-2. These data support our hypothesis that in addition to its immunotherapeutic effects, IL-2 also acts directly on some melanoma tumors and that the IL-24 and IL-2R beta status of a tumor may be useful in predicting patient response to high dose IL-2.


IL-24, melanoma, IL-2, predictive marker, growth suppression



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