MEK1 mutations confer resistance to MEK and B-RAF inhibition.
ABSTRACT: Genetic alterations that activate the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAP kinase) pathway occur commonly in cancer. For example, the majority of melanomas harbor mutations in the BRAF oncogene, which are predicted to confer enhanced sensitivity to pharmacologic MAP kinase inhibition (e.g., RAF or MEK inhibitors). We investigated the clinical relevance of MEK dependency in melanoma by massively parallel sequencing of resistant clones generated from a MEK1 random mutagenesis screen in vitro, as well as tumors obtained from relapsed patients following treatment with AZD6244, an allosteric MEK inhibitor. Most mutations conferring resistance to MEK inhibition in vitro populated the allosteric drug binding pocket or alpha-helix C and showed robust ( approximately 100-fold) resistance to allosteric MEK inhibition. Other mutations affected MEK1 codons located within or abutting the N-terminal negative regulatory helix (helix A), which also undergo gain-of-function germline mutations in cardio-facio-cutaneous (CFC) syndrome. One such mutation, MEK1(P124L), was identified in a resistant metastatic focus that emerged in a melanoma patient treated with AZD6244. Both MEK1(P124L) and MEK1(Q56P), which disrupts helix A, conferred cross-resistance to PLX4720, a selective B-RAF inhibitor. However, exposing BRAF-mutant melanoma cells to AZD6244 and PLX4720 in combination prevented emergence of resistant clones. These results affirm the importance of MEK dependency in BRAF-mutant melanoma and suggest novel mechanisms of resistance to MEK and B-RAF inhibitors that may have important clinical implications.
Project description:Inhibitors of B-Raf and MEK kinases hold promise for the management of cutaneous melanomas harboring BRAF mutations. BRAF mutations are rare in uveal melanomas (UMs), but somatic mutations in the G protein ? subunits G?q and G?11 (encoded by GNAQ and GNA11, respectively) occur in a mutually exclusive pattern in ?80% of UMs. The impact of B-Raf and MEK inhibitors on G?-mutant UMs remains unknown.The impact of the B-Raf inhibitor PLX4720, the MEK inhibitor AZD6244, and the Akt inhibitor MK2206 on UM cell lines was assessed with the use of cell viability, proliferation, and apoptosis assays and immunoblot analysis.BRAF-mutant UM cells were sensitive to both PLX4720 and AZD6244, undergoing cell cycle arrest but not apoptosis. UM cells with a G?-protein mutation (GNAQ or GNA11) were mildly sensitive to AZD6244 but completely resistant to PLX4720. In fact, PLX4720 paradoxically increased ERK phosphorylation in G?-mutant UM cells. The combination of AZD6244 with PLX4720 had synergistic anticancer activity in BRAF-mutant cells but not in G?-mutant cells. The Akt inhibitor MK2206 sensitized BRAF-mutant cells to both PLX4720 and AZD6244 and sensitized G?-mutant cells to AZD6244 but did not overcome the resistance of the G?-mutant cells to PLX4720.The response of UM cells to inhibition of B-Raf, MEK, and Akt depends on their genotype. Future use of such targeted therapies in clinical trials of UM patients will require careful design and patient selection based on genotype to provide personalized and effective therapy.
Project description:RAF and MEK inhibitors are effective in BRAF-mutant melanoma but not in BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer. To gain additional insights into this difference, we performed a genome-scale pooled shRNA enhancer screen in a BRAF-mutant, RAF inhibitor-resistant colorectal cancer cell line exposed to the selective RAF inhibitor PLX4720. We identified multiple genes along the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK)/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling axis that, when suppressed, either genetically or pharmacologically, sensitized cells to the selective RAF inhibitor through sustained inhibition of MAPK signaling. Strikingly, CRAF was a key mediator of resistance that could be overcome by the use of pan-RAF inhibitors in combination with a MEK inhibitor. Furthermore, the combination of pan-RAF and MEK inhibitors displayed strong synergy in melanoma and colorectal cancer cell lines with RAS-activating events such as RTK activation, KRAS mutation, or NF1 loss-of-function mutations. Combinations of selective RAF inhibitors, such as PLX4720 or dabrafenib, with MEK inhibitors did not incur such profound synergy, suggesting that inhibition of CRAF by pan-RAF inhibitors plays a key role in determining cellular response. Importantly, in contrast to the modest activity seen with single-agent treatment, dual pan-RAF and MEK inhibition results in the induction of apoptosis, greatly enhancing efficacy. Notably, combined pan-RAF and MEK inhibition can overcome intrinsic and acquired resistance to single-agent RAF/MEK inhibition, supporting dual pan-RAF and MEK inhibition as a novel therapeutic strategy for BRAF- and KRAS-mutant cancers.
Project description:The majority of melanomas show constitutive activation of the RAS-RAF-MAP/ERK kinase (MEK)-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. AZD6244 is a selective MEK1/2 inhibitor that markedly reduces tumor P-MAPK levels, but it produces few clinical responses in melanoma patients. An improved understanding of the determinants of resistance to AZD6244 may lead to improved patient selection and effective combinatorial approaches. The effects of AZD6244 on cell growth and survival were tested in a total of 14 Braf-mutant and 3 wild-type human cutaneous melanoma cell lines. Quantitative assessment of phospho-protein levels in the Braf-mutant cell lines by reverse phase protein array (RPPA) analysis showed no significant association between P-MEK or P-MAPK levels and AZD6244 sensitivity, but activation-specific markers in the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-AKT pathway correlated with resistance. We also identified resistant cell lines without basal activation of the PI3K-AKT pathway. RPPA characterization of the time-dependent changes in signaling pathways revealed that AZD6244 produced durable and potent inhibition of P-MAPK in sensitive and resistant Braf-mutant cell lines, but several resistant lines showed AZD6244-induced activation of AKT. In contrast, sensitive cell lines showed AZD6244 treatment-induced upregulation of PTEN protein and mRNA expression. Inhibition of AKT, TORC1/2, or insulin-like growth factor I receptor blocked AZD6244-induced activation of AKT and resulted in synergistic cell killing with AZD6244. These findings identify basal and treatment-induced regulation of the PI3K-AKT pathway as a critical regulator of AZD6244 sensitivity in Braf-mutant cutaneous melanoma cells and the novel regulation of PTEN expression by AZD6244 in sensitive cells, and suggest new combinatorial approaches for patients.
Project description:Resistance to RAF inhibitors such as vemurafenib and dabrafenib is a major clinical problem in the treatment of melanoma. Patients with mutant BRAF melanoma that progress on RAF inhibitors have limited treatment options, and drug removal from resistant tumors may elicit multiple effects. A frequent mechanism of resistance to RAF inhibitors is caused by expression of mutant BRAF splice variants. RAF inhibitor-resistant cell lines, generated in vivo, were tested as to whether or not mutant BRAF splice variants confer a fitness advantage in the presence of RAF inhibitor. Critically, cells expressing distinct mutant BRAF splice variants grow more efficiently in vitro and in vivo in the presence of the vemurafenib analog, PLX4720, compared with in the absence of inhibitor. PLX4720-treated BRAF splice variant-expressing cells exhibited levels of phospho-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 comparable to untreated parental cells. In addition, a reduction in phospho-ERK1/2 levels following treatment with the MEK inhibitor, trametinib (GSK1120212) phenocopied the fitness benefit provided by PLX4720. These data indicate that mutant BRAF splice variant-expressing melanoma cells are benefited by defined concentrations of RAF inhibitors.This study provides evidence that RAF inhibitor-resistant melanoma cells benefit from continued therapy.
Project description:We report the emergence of the novel MEK1 V211D gatekeeper mutation in a patient with BRAF K601E colon cancer treated with the allosteric MEK inhibitor binimetinib and the anti-EGFR antibody panitumumab. The MEK1 V211D mutation concurrently occurs in the same cell with BRAF K601E and leads to RAF-independent activity but remains regulated by RAF. The V211D mutation causes resistance to binimetinib by both increasing the catalytic activity of MEK1 and reducing its affinity for the drug. Moreover, the mutant exhibits reduced sensitivity to all the allosteric MEK inhibitors tested. Thus, this mutation serves as a general resistance mutation for current MEK inhibitors; however, it is sensitive to a newly reported ATP-competitive MEK inhibitor, which therefore could be used to overcome drug resistance. SIGNIFICANCE: We report a resistance mechanism to allosteric MEK inhibitors in the clinic. A MEK1 V211D mutation developed in a patient with BRAF K601E colon cancer on MEK and EGFR inhibitors. This mutant increases the catalytic activity of MEK1 and reduces its affinity for binimetinib, but remains sensitive to ATP-competitive MEK inhibitors.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 1143.
Project description:Activating mutations in B-RAF and N-RAS occur in ?60 and ?15% of melanomas, respectively. The most common mutation in B-RAF is V600E, which activates B-RAF and the downstream MEK-ERK1/2 pathway. Thus, B-RAF(V600E) is a viable therapeutic target. PLX4720 is a selective inhibitor of mutant B-RAF and its analog, PLX4032, is currently undergoing clinical trials in melanoma. However, the effects of PLX4720 across the genotypic spectrum in melanoma remain unclear. Here, we describe that PLX4720 treatment rapidly induces hyperactivation of the MEK-ERK1/2 pathway in mutant N-RAS melanoma cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that C-RAF is the major RAF isoform involved in this process. Importantly, PLX4720-induced hyperactivation of the MEK-ERK1/2 pathway promotes resistance to apoptosis in both non-invasive and invasive mutant N-RAS melanoma cells but does not enhance cell cycle properties. These findings underscore the need to genotypically stratify melanoma patients before enrollment on a mutant B-RAF inhibitor trial.
Project description:BRAF, one of three RAF serine/threonine kinases (ARAF, BRAF and CRAF), plays a major role in the RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway, which mediates cellular responses to growth signals. Recently a high frequency (~60%-70%) of activating BRAF mutations (predominantly V600E) has been reported in malignant melanoma. In order to identify the downstream effects of BRAF signaling on melanoma cell growth and gene expression, cDNA microarray analysis was carried out following BRAF siRNA or MEK1/2 inhibitor (U0126) treatment. Keywords: time series, siRNA time series, siRNA, drug treatment
Project description:Somatic activating mutations of BRAF are the earliest and most common genetic abnormality detected in the genesis of human melanoma. However, the mechanism(s) by which activated BRAF promotes melanoma cell cycle progression and/or survival remain unclear. Here we demonstrate that expression of BIM, a pro-apoptotic member of the BCL-2 family, is inhibited by BRAF-->MEK-->ERK signaling in mouse and human melanocytes and in human melanoma cells. Trophic factor deprivation of melanocytes leads to elevated BIM expression. However, re-addition of trophic factors or activation of a conditional form of BRAF(V600E) leads to rapid inhibition of BIM expression. In both cases, inhibition of BIM expression was dependent on the activity of MEK1/2 and the proteasome. Consistent with these observations, pharmacological inhibition of BRAF(V600E) or MEK1/2 in human melanoma cells (using PLX4720 and CI-1040 respectively) led to a striking elevation of BIM expression. Re-activation of BRAF-->MEK-->ERK signaling led to phosphorylation of BIM-EL on serine 69 and its subsequent degradation. Interestingly, endogenous expression of BIM in melanoma cells was insufficient to induce apoptosis unless combined with serum deprivation. Under these circumstances, inhibition of BIM expression by RNA interference provided partial protection from apoptosis. These data suggest that regulation of BIM expression by BRAF-->MEK-->ERK signaling is one mechanism by which oncogenic BRAF(V600E) can influence the aberrant physiology of melanoma cells.
Project description:Oncogenic BRAF mutations initiate tumor formation by unleashing the autoinhibited kinase conformation and promoting RAS-decoupled proliferative RAF-MEK-ERK signaling. We have engineered luciferase-based biosensors to systematically track full-length BRAF conformations and interactions affected by tumorigenic kinase mutations and GTP loading of RAS. Binding of structurally diverse ?C-helix-OUT BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) showed differences in specificity and efficacy by shifting patient mutation-containing BRAF reporters from the definitive opened to more closed conformations. Unexpectedly, BRAFi engagement with the catalytic pocket of V600E-mutated BRAF stabilized an intermediate and inactive kinase conformation that enhanced binary RAS:RAF interactions, also independently of RAF dimerization in melanoma cells. We present evidence that the interference with RAS interactions and nanoclustering antagonizes the sequential formation of drug-induced RAS:RAF tetramers. This suggests a previously unappreciated allosteric effect of anticancer drug-driven intramolecular communication between the kinase and RAS-binding domains of mutated BRAF, which may further promote paradoxical kinase activation and drug resistance mechanisms.