Melanocytic nevus-like hyperplasia and melanoma in transgenic BRAFV600E mice.
ABSTRACT: BRAF, a cellular oncogene and effector of RAS-mediated signaling, is activated by mutation in approximately 60% of melanomas. Most of these mutations consist of a V600E substitution resulting in constitutive kinase activation. Mutant BRAF thus represents an important therapeutic target in melanoma. In an effort to produce a pre-clinical model of mutant BRAF function in melanoma, we have generated a mouse expressing BRAF V600E targeted to melanocytes. We show that in these transgenic mice, widespread benign melanocytic hyperplasia with histological features of nevi occurs, with biochemical evidence of senescence. Melanocytic hyperplasia progresses to overt melanoma with an incidence dependent on BRAF expression levels. Melanomas show CDKN2A loss, and genetic disruption of the CDKN2A locus greatly enhances melanoma formation, consistent with collaboration between BRAF activation and CDKN2A loss suggested from studies of human melanoma. The development of melanoma also involves activation of the Mapk and Akt signaling pathways and loss of senescence, findings that faithfully recapitulate those seen in human melanomas. This murine model of mutant BRAF-induced melanoma formation thus provides an important tool for identifying further genetic alterations that cooperates with BRAF and that may be useful in enhancing susceptibility to BRAF-targeted therapeutics in melanoma.
Project description:Braf(V600E) induces benign, growth-arrested melanocytic nevus development, but also drives melanoma formation. Cdkn2a loss in Braf(V600E) melanocytes in mice results in rare progression to melanoma, but only after stable growth arrest as nevi. Immediate progression to melanoma is prevented by upregulation of miR-99/100, which downregulates mTOR and IGF1R signaling. mTORC1 activation through Stk11 (Lkb1) loss abrogates growth arrest of Braf(V600E) melanocytic nevi, but is insufficient for complete progression to melanoma. Cdkn2a loss is associated with mTORC2 and Akt activation in human and murine melanocytic neoplasms. Simultaneous Cdkn2a and Lkb1 inactivation in Braf(V600E) melanocytes results in activation of both mTORC1 and mTORC2/Akt, inducing rapid melanoma formation in mice. In this model, activation of both mTORC1/2 is required for Braf-induced melanomagenesis.
Project description:Human melanocytic nevi (moles) are benign lesions harboring activated oncogenes, including BRAF. Although this oncogene initially acts mitogenically, eventually, oncogene-induced senescence (OIS) ensues. Nevi can infrequently progress to melanomas, but the mechanistic relationship with OIS is unclear. We show here that PTEN depletion abrogates BRAF(V600E)-induced senescence in human fibroblasts and melanocytes. Correspondingly, in established murine BRAF(V600E)-driven nevi, acute shRNA-mediated depletion of PTEN prompted tumor progression. Furthermore, genetic analysis of laser-guided microdissected human contiguous nevus-melanoma specimens recurrently revealed identical mutations in BRAF or NRAS in adjacent benign and malignant melanocytes. The PI3K pathway was often activated through either decreased PTEN or increased AKT3 expression in melanomas relative to their adjacent nevi. Pharmacologic PI3K inhibition in melanoma cells suppressed proliferation and induced the senescence-associated tumor suppressor p15(INK4B). This treatment also eliminated subpopulations resistant to targeted BRAF(V600E) inhibition. Our findings suggest that a significant proportion of melanomas arise from nevi. Furthermore, these results demonstrate that PI3K pathway activation serves as a rate-limiting event in this setting, acting at least in part by abrogating OIS. The reactivation of senescence features and elimination of cells refractory to BRAF(V600E) inhibition by PI3K inhibition warrants further investigation into the therapeutic potential of simultaneously targeting these pathways in melanoma.
Project description:Melanocytic nevi frequently harbor oncogenic BRAF mutations, but only a minority progress to melanoma. In human melanocytes, persistent BRAF(V600E) expression triggers oncogene-induced senescence, which implies that bypass of oncogene-induced senescence is necessary for malignant transformation of melanocytes. We show that a subpopulation of primary human melanocytes with persistent expression of BRAF(V600E) do not enter oncogene-induced senescence, but instead survive despite heightened MAPK activity. Disruption of the p53 pathway using short-hairpin RNA initiated rapid growth of these V600E(+) melanocytes in vitro. The resultant V600E(+)/p53(sh) melanocytes grew anchorage-independently in soft agar, formed pigmented lesions reminiscent of in situ melanoma in artificial skin reconstructs, and were weakly tumorigenic in vivo. Array comparative genomic hybridization analysis demonstrated that the transformed melanocytes acquired a substantial deletion in chromosome 13, which encodes the Rb1 tumor suppressor gene. Gene expression profiling study of nevi and melanomas showed that p53 target genes were differentially expressed in melanomas compared with nevi, suggesting a dysfunctional p53 pathway in melanoma in vivo. In summary, these data demonstrate that a subpopulation of melanocytes possesses the ability to survive BRAF(V600E)-induced senescence, and suggest that p53 inactivation may promote malignant transformation of these cells.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Oncogenic BRAF mutation had been considered to be a founder event in the formation of melanocytic tumours; however, we recently argued against this notion by showing marked polyclonality of BRAF mutations in acquired melanocytic nevi (Lin et al, J Natl Cancer Inst., 2009; 101:1423-7). Here, we tested whether similar heterogeneity of BRAF mutations exists in primary melanomas. METHODS: We isolated and sequenced single melanoma cells from five primary melanoma tissues using antibodies against human high-molecular-weight melanoma-associated antigen. We also examined 10 primary melanomas by the sensitive Mutector assay detecting the BRAF(V600E) mutation, as well as by cloning and sequencing of separated alleles. Furthermore, we estimated the frequency of BRAF mutant alleles in paired samples of primary tumour and recurrence or metastasis in three patients. RESULTS: Single-cell mutation analyses revealed that four of five primary melanomas contained both BRAF-wild-type and BRAF-mutant tumour cells. Tumour heterogeneity in terms of BRAF mutations was also shown in 8 of 10 primary melanomas. Selection of BRAF mutant alleles during progression was demonstrated in all the three patients. CONCLUSION: Acquisition of a BRAF mutation is not a founder event, but may be one of the multiple clonal events in melanoma development, which is selected for during the progression.
Project description:Oncogene-induced senescence, e.g., in melanocytic nevi, terminates the expansion of pre-malignant cells via transcriptional silencing of proliferation-related genes due to decoration of their promoters with repressive trimethylated histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) marks. We show here that structurally distinct H3K9-active demethylases-the lysine-specific demethylase-1 (LSD1) and several Jumonji C domain-containing moieties (such as JMJD2C)-disable senescence and permit Ras/Braf-evoked transformation. In mouse and zebrafish models, enforced LSD1 or JMJD2C expression promoted Braf-V600E-driven melanomagenesis. A large subset of established melanoma cell lines and primary human melanoma samples presented with a collective upregulation of related and unrelated H3K9 demethylase activities, whose targeted inhibition restored senescence, even in Braf inhibitor-resistant melanomas, evoked secondary immune effects and controlled tumor growth in vivo.
Project description:Deletion of the entire CDKN2B-CDKN2A gene cluster is among the most common genetic events in cancer. The tumor-promoting effects are generally attributed to loss of CDKN2A-encoded p16 and p14ARF tumor suppressors. The degree to which the associated CDKN2B-encoded p15 loss contributes to human tumorigenesis is unclear. Here, we show that CDKN2B is highly upregulated in benign melanocytic nevi, contributes to maintaining nevus melanocytes in a growth-arrested premalignant state, and is commonly lost in melanoma. Using primary melanocytes isolated directly from freshly excised human nevi naturally expressing the common BRAF(V600E)-activating mutation, nevi progressing to melanoma, and normal melanocytes engineered to inducibly express BRAF(V600E), we show that BRAF activation results in reversible, TGF?-dependent, p15 induction that halts proliferation. Furthermore, we engineer human skin grafts containing nevus-derived melanocytes to establish a new, architecturally faithful, in vivo melanoma model, and demonstrate that p15 loss promotes the transition from benign nevus to melanoma.Although BRAF(V600E) mutations cause melanocytes to initially proliferate into benign moles, mechanisms responsible for their eventual growth arrest are unknown. Using melanocytes from human moles, we show that BRAF activation leads to a CDKN2B induction that is critical for restraining BRAF oncogenic effects, and when lost, contributes to melanoma.
Project description:Malignant melanomas often harbor activating mutations in BRAF (V600E) or, less frequently, in NRAS (Q61R). Intriguingly, the same mutations have been detected at higher incidences in benign nevi, which are largely composed of senescent melanocytes. Overexpression of BRAF(V600E) or NRAS(Q61R) in human melanocytes in vitro has been shown to induce senescence, although via different mechanisms. How oncogene-induced senescence is overcome during melanoma progression remains unclear. Here, we report that in the majority of analysed BRAF(V600E)- or NRAS(Q61R)-expressing melanoma cells, C-MYC depletion induced different yet overlapping sets of senescence phenotypes that are characteristic of normal melanocytes undergoing senescence due to overexpression of BRAF(V600E) or NRAS(Q61R), respectively. These senescence phenotypes were p16(INK4A)- or p53-independent, however, several of them were suppressed by genetic or pharmacological inhibition of BRAF(V600E) or phosphoinositide 3-kinase pathways, including rapamycin-mediated inhibition of mTOR-raptor in NRAS(Q61R)-expressing melanoma cells. Reciprocally, overexpression of C-MYC in normal melanocytes suppressed BRAF(V600E)-induced senescence more efficiently than NRAS(Q61R)-induced senescence, which agrees with the generally higher rates of activating mutations in BRAF than NRAS gene in human cutaneous melanomas. Our data suggest that one of the major functions of C-MYC overexpression in melanoma progression is to continuous suppress BRAF(V600E)- or NRAS(Q61R)-dependent senescence programs.
Project description:AIMS:Melanocytic naevi are benign lesions of the skin or mucosa that may constitute non-obligate precursors of malignant melanoma, particularly when they show lentiginous and dysplastic features. The aim of this study was to investigate the repertoire of somatic genetic alterations in melanocytic naevi. METHODS AND RESULTS:DNA extracted from 12 melanocytic naevi and DNA from matching normal tissue were separately microdissected and subjected to targeted massively parallel sequencing of ?300 cancer genes. A median of 5.5 (range 1-12) non-synonymous somatic mutations were detected, with 10 cases harbouring mutually exclusive BRAF V600E (6/12) or NRAS (4/12) clonal hotspot mutations. One of the two cases lacking BRAF and NRAS mutations was a dysplastic naevus harbouring an HRAS Q61L hotspot mutation. Analysis of the laser-capture microdissected components of a naevus synchronously diagnosed with in-situ and invasive malignant melanoma revealed a truncal, clonal BRAF V600E mutation, and the acquisition of a CDKN2A homozygous deletion in the invasive component, in conjunction with additional clonal mutations affecting NF2, FAT4 and KDR in both in-situ and invasive malignant components. CONCLUSION:Melanocytic naevi harbour recurrent BRAF V600E or NRAS hotspot mutations with low mutational burdens. Our findings also show that progression from naevi to malignant melanoma may be driven by the acquisition of additional genetic alterations, including CDKN2A homozygous deletions.
Project description:BRAF(V600E) mutations are frequent in melanomas originating from intermittently sun-exposed skin and also in common acquired melanocytic nevi, suggesting that BRAF mutation is an early event in melanocytic neoplasia. All neoplastic melanocytes within such a nevus would be expected to carry the BRAF mutation, and thus we evaluated the frequency of cells with BRAF(V600E) mutations within acquired nevi by droplet digital polymerase chain reaction. In BRAF-mutant nevi the number of BRAF mutant alleles equaled the number of wild-type (WT) alleles in the neoplastic cell population, consistent with a fully clonal heterozygous BRAF mutation. The allelic ratio of BRAF(V600E) to BRAF(WT) in the eight VE1-positive nevi, adjusted for degree of stromal contamination, ranged from 0.84 to 1.12 with an average ratio of 1.01. This was confirmed by immunohistochemistry with an antibody specific for BRAF(V600E), which uniformly labeled the neoplastic cells without any evidence of heterogeneity. We found BRAF(V600E) mutations in the melanocytic nevi to be fully clonal, strongly suggesting that BRAF-activating mutations typically are early initiating events in melanocytic neoplasia.
Project description:According to the prevailing multistep model of melanoma development, oncogenic BRAF or NRAS mutations are crucial initial events in melanoma development. It is not known whether melanocytic nevi that are found in association with a melanoma are more likely to carry BRAF or NRAS mutations than uninvolved nevi. By laser microdissection we were able to selectively dissect and genotype cells either from the nevus or from the melanoma part of 46 melanomas that developed in association with a nevus. In 25 cases we also genotyped a control nevus of the same patients. Available tissue was also immunostained using the BRAF(V600E)-mutation specific antibody VE1. The BRAF(V600E) mutation was found in 63.0% of melanomas, 65.2% of associated nevi and 50.0% of control nevi. No significant differences in the distribution of BRAF or NRAS mutations could be found between melanoma and associated nevi or between melanoma associated nevi and control nevi. In concordant cases immunohistochemistry showed a higher expression (intensity of immunohistochemistry) of the mutated BRAF(V600E)-protein in melanomas compared to their associated nevi. In this series the presence of a BRAF- or NRAS mutation in a nevus was not associated with the risk of malignant transformation. Our findings do not support the current traditional model of stepwise tumor progression.