Adaptive upregulation of FOXD3 and resistance to PLX4032/4720-induced cell death in mutant B-RAF melanoma cells.
ABSTRACT: Melanoma cells driven by mutant v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B1 (B-RAF) are highly resistant to chemotherapeutic treatments. Recent phase 1 results with PLX4032/RG7204/vemurafenib, which selectively inhibits B-RAF/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 signaling in mutant B-RAF cells, has given encouragement to this struggling field. Nearly all patients in the phase 1-3 studies saw at least some response and the overall response rates ranged from 48 and 81%. However, despite initial tumor shrinkage, most responders in the trial experienced tumor relapse over time. These findings indicate that both intrinsic and acquired resistance may affect the clinical efficacy of PLX4032. It is critical to optimize PLX4032 activity to improve response rates and understand why some patients with the B-RAF mutation do not respond. We have previously shown that the stemness factor, Forkhead box D3 (FOXD3), is upregulated following inhibition of B-RAF-MEK signaling in mutant B-RAF melanoma cells. Here, we show that upregulation of FOXD3 following treatment with PLX4032 and PLX4720 (the non-clinical tool compound for PLX4032) confers resistance to cell death. Small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of FOXD3 significantly enhanced the cell death response after PLX4032/4720 treatment in mutant B-RAF melanoma cell lines. Additionally, upregulation of FOXD3 after PLX4720 treatment was attenuated in non-adherent conditions and correlated with enhanced cell death. Ectopic expression of FOXD3 in non-adherent cells significantly reduced cell death in response to PLX4720 treatment. Together, these data indicate that upregulation of FOXD3 is an adaptive response to RAF inhibitors that promotes a state of drug resistance.
Project description:B-RAF is mutated to a constitutively active form in 8% of human cancers including 50% of melanomas. In clinical trials, the RAF inhibitor, PLX4032 (vemurafenib), caused partial or complete responses in 48-81% of mutant B-RAF harboring melanoma patients. However, the average duration of response was 6-7 months before tumor regrowth, indicating the acquisition of resistance to PLX4032. To understand the mechanisms of resistance, we developed mutant B-RAF melanoma cells that displayed resistance to RAF inhibition through continuous culture with PLX4720 (the tool compound for PLX4032). Resistance was associated with a partial reactivation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) signaling, recovery of G1/S cell-cycle events, and suppression of the pro-apoptotic B-cell leukemia/lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) homology domain 3 (BH3)-only proteins, Bcl-2-interacting mediator of cell death-extra large (Bim-EL) and Bcl-2 modifying factor (Bmf). Preventing ERK1/2 reactivation with MEK (mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase) inhibitors blocked G1-S cell-cycle progression but failed to induce apoptosis or upregulate Bim-EL and Bmf. Treatment with the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid, led to de-repression of Bim-EL and enhanced cell death in the presence of PLX4720 or AZD6244 in resistant cells. These data indicate that acquired resistance to PLX4032/4720 likely involves ERK1/2 pathway reactivation as well as ERK1/2-independent silencing of BH3-only proteins. Furthermore, combined treatment of HDAC inhibitors and MEK inhibitors may contribute to overcoming PLX4032 resistance.
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:The forkhead box transcription factor FOXD3 is a stemness factor that prevents the production of melanocyte progenitors from the developing neural crest; however, its role in human cancers is not known. Transformation of melanocytes gives rise to melanoma. In two thirds of melanomas, the serine/threonine kinase B-RAF is mutated to a constitutively active form. Here, we show that FOXD3 levels are upregulated following attenuation of B-RAF and mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) kinase (MEK) signaling in mutant B-RAF harboring human melanoma cells. This effect was selective because FOXD3 was not upregulated following MEK inhibition in wild-type B-RAF melanoma cells and mutant B-RAF thyroid carcinoma cells. Ectopic FOXD3 expression potently inhibited melanoma cell growth without altering mutant B-RAF activation of ERK1/2. Inhibition of cell growth was due to a potent G(1) cell cycle arrest and was associated with p53-dependent upregulation of p21(Cip1). FOXD3-induced cell cycle arrest was prevented by p53 depletion and, to a lesser extent, p21(Cip1) depletion. These studies show that FOXD3 is suppressed by B-RAF, uncover a novel role and mechanism for FOXD3 as a negative cell cycle regulator, and have implications for the repression of melanocytic lineage cells.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Various kinase inhibitors are known to be ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter substrates and resistance acquisition to kinase inhibitors has been associated to increased ABC transporter expression. Here, we investigated the role of the ABC transporters ABCB1, ABCC1, and ABCG2 during melanoma cell resistance acquisition to the V600-mutant BRAF inhibitors PLX4032 (vemurafenib) and PLX4720. PLX4032 had previously been shown to interfere with ABCB1 and ABCG2. PLX4720 had been demonstrated to interact with ABCB1 but to a lower extent than PLX4032.<h4>Findings</h4>PLX4032 and PLX4720 affected ABCC1- and ABCG2-mediated drug transport in a similar fashion. In a panel of 16 V600E BRAF-mutated melanoma cell lines consisting of four parental cell lines and their sub-lines with acquired resistance to PLX4032, PLX4720, vincristine (cytotoxic ABCB1 and ABCC1 substrate), or mitoxantrone (cytotoxic ABCG2 substrate), we detected enhanced ABC transporter expression in 4/4 cytotoxic ABC transporter substrate-resistant, 3/4 PLX4720-resistant, and 1/4 PLX4032-resistant melanoma cell lines.<h4>Conclusion</h4>PLX4032 has the potential to induce ABC transporter expression but this potential is lower than that of PLX4720 or cytotoxic ABC transporter substrates. Since ABC transporters confer multi-drug resistance, this is of relevance for the design of next-line therapies.
Project description:The mechanisms underlying adaptive resistance of melanoma to targeted therapies remain unclear. By combining ChIP sequencing with microarray-based gene profiling, we determined that ERBB3 is upregulated by FOXD3, a transcription factor that promotes resistance to RAF inhibitors in melanoma. Enhanced ERBB3 signaling promoted resistance to RAF pathway inhibitors in cultured melanoma cell lines and in mouse xenograft models. ERBB3 signaling was dependent on ERBB2; targeting ERBB2 with lapatinib in combination with the RAF inhibitor PLX4720 reduced tumor burden and extended latency of tumor regrowth in vivo versus PLX4720 alone. These results suggest that enhanced ERBB3 signaling may serve as a mechanism of adaptive resistance to RAF and MEK inhibitors in melanoma and that cotargeting this pathway may enhance the clinical efficacy and extend the therapeutic duration of RAF inhibitors.
Project description:Melanoma cells are highly resistant to anoikis, a form of apoptosis induced in nonadherent/inappropriate adhesion conditions. Depleting B-RAF or the prosurvival Bcl-2 family protein Mcl-1 renders mutant B-RAF melanoma cells susceptible to anoikis. In this study, we examined the effect of targeting B-RAF on the survival of primary stage melanoma cells cultured in three-dimensional type I collagen gels, which partially mimics the dermal microenvironment. Depletion/inhibition of B-RAF with small interfering RNA or the mutant B-RAF inhibitor, PLX4720, induced apoptosis of mutant B-RAF melanoma cells in three-dimensional collagen. Apoptosis was dependent on two upregulated BH3-only proteins, Bim-EL and Bmf, and was inhibited by ectopic Mcl-1 expression. Akt3 activation has been associated with the survival of melanoma cells. Mutant B-RAF melanoma cells ectopically expressing a constitutively activated form of Akt3 or endogenously expressing mutant Akt3 were protected from apoptosis induced by B-RAF knockdown or PLX4720 treatment. Furthermore, intrinsically resistant metastatic melanoma cells displayed elevated Akt phosphorylation in three-dimensional collagen and were rendered susceptible to PLX4720 by Akt3 knockdown. Importantly, myristylated Akt3 prevented B-RAF targeting-induced upregulation of Bim-EL and Bmf in three-dimensional collagen and partially protected Mcl-1-depleted cells from apoptosis. These findings delineate how mutant B-RAF protects melanoma cells from apoptosis and provide insight into possible resistance mechanisms to B-RAF inhibitors.
Project description:ERBB3/HER3 expression and signaling are upregulated in mutant BRAF melanoma as an adaptive, prosurvival response to FDA-approved RAF inhibitors. Because compensatory ERBB3 signaling counteracts the effects of RAF inhibitors, cotargeting ERBB3 may increase the efficacy of RAF inhibitors in mutant BRAF models of melanoma. Here, we corroborate this concept by showing that the ERBB3 function-blocking monoclonal antibody huHER3-8 can inhibit neuregulin-1 activation of ERBB3 and downstream signaling in RAF-inhibited melanoma cells. Targeting mutant BRAF in combination with huHER3-8 decreased cell proliferation and increased cell death in vitro, and decreased tumor burden in vivo, compared with targeting either mutant BRAF or ERBB3 alone. Furthermore, the likelihood of a durable tumor response in vivo was increased when huHER3-8 was combined with RAF inhibitor PLX4720. Together, these results offer a preclinical proof of concept for the application of ERBB3-neutralizing antibodies to enhance the efficacy of RAF inhibitors in melanoma to delay or prevent tumor regrowth. As ERBB3 is often upregulated in response to other kinase-targeted therapeutics, these findings may have implications for other cancers as well.
Project description:In human mutant BRAF melanoma cells, the stemness transcription factor FOXD3 is rapidly induced by inhibition of ERK1/2 signaling and mediates adaptive resistance to RAF inhibitors. However, the mechanism underlying ERK signaling control of FOXD3 expression remains unknown. Here we show that SOX10 is both necessary and sufficient for RAF inhibitor-induced expression of FOXD3 in mutant BRAF melanoma cells. SOX10 activates the transcription of FOXD3 by binding to a regulatory element in FOXD3 promoter. Phosphorylation of SOX10 by ERK inhibits its transcription activity toward multiple target genes by interfering with the sumoylation of SOX10 at K55, which is essential for its transcription activity. Finally, depletion of SOX10 sensitizes mutant BRAF melanoma cells to RAF inhibitors in vitro and in vivo. Thus, our work discovers a novel phosphorylation-dependent regulatory mechanism of SOX10 transcription activity and completes an ERK1/2/SOX10/FOXD3/ERBB3 axis that mediates adaptive resistance to RAF inhibitors in mutant BRAF melanoma cells.
Project description:B-RAF is the most frequently mutated protein kinase in human cancers. The finding that oncogenic mutations in BRAF are common in melanoma, followed by the demonstration that these tumours are dependent on the RAF/MEK/ERK pathway, offered hope that inhibition of B-RAF kinase activity could benefit melanoma patients. Herein, we describe the structure-guided discovery of PLX4032 (RG7204), a potent inhibitor of oncogenic B-RAF kinase activity. Preclinical experiments demonstrated that PLX4032 selectively blocked the RAF/MEK/ERK pathway in BRAF mutant cells and caused regression of BRAF mutant xenografts. Toxicology studies confirmed a wide safety margin consistent with the high degree of selectivity, enabling Phase 1 clinical trials using a crystalline formulation of PLX4032 (ref. 5). In a subset of melanoma patients, pathway inhibition was monitored in paired biopsy specimens collected before treatment initiation and following two weeks of treatment. This analysis revealed substantial inhibition of ERK phosphorylation, yet clinical evaluation did not show tumour regressions. At higher drug exposures afforded by a new amorphous drug formulation, greater than 80% inhibition of ERK phosphorylation in the tumours of patients correlated with clinical response. Indeed, the Phase 1 clinical data revealed a remarkably high 81% response rate in metastatic melanoma patients treated at an oral dose of 960?mg twice daily. These data demonstrate that BRAF-mutant melanomas are highly dependent on B-RAF kinase activity.
Project description:(V600E)B-RAF mutation is found in 50% to 60% of melanomas, and the novel agents PLX4032/vemurafenib and GSK2118436 that inhibit the (V600E)B-RAF kinase achieve a remarkable clinical response rate. However, as might be expected, acquired clinical resistance to these agents arises in most melanoma patients. PLX4032/vemurafenib resistance that arises in vivo in tumor matched short-term cultures or in vitro in melanoma cell lines is not caused by acquisition of secondary mutations in (V600E)B-RAF but rather is caused by upregulating platelet-derived growth factor receptor ? (PDGFR?) or N-RAS which results in resistance or sensitivity to mitogen-activated protein (MAP)/extracellular signal-regulated (ERK; MEK) kinase inhibitors, respectively. In this study, we define a targeted combinatorial strategy to overcome PLX4032/vemurafenib resistance in melanoma cell lines or short-term culture where the resistance is driven by PDGFR? upregulation, achieving synergistic growth inhibition and cytotoxicity. PDGFR?-upregulated, PLX4032-resistant (PPRM) cell lines show dual phospho (p)-ERK and p-AKT upregulation, and their growth inhibitory responses to specific small molecule inhibitors correlated with p-ERK, p-AKT, and p-p70S6K levels. Coordinate inhibition of (V600E)B-RAF inhibition and the RTK-PI3K-AKT-mTORC axis led to functionally significant rebound signaling, illustrating a robust and dynamic network connectivity. Combined B-RAF, phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), and mTORC1/2 inhibition suppressed both immediate early and delayed compensatory signaling, resulting in a highly synergistic growth inhibitory response but less efficient cytotoxic response. In contrast, the combination of MEK1/2, PI3K, and mTORC1/2 inhibitors consistently triggered apoptosis in a highly efficient manner. Together, our findings offer a rational strategy to guide clinical testing in preidentified subsets of patients who relapse during treatment with (V600E)B-RAF inhibitors.