The genetic landscape of clinical resistance to RAF inhibition in metastatic melanoma.
ABSTRACT: Most patients with BRAF(V600)-mutant metastatic melanoma develop resistance to selective RAF kinase inhibitors. The spectrum of clinical genetic resistance mechanisms to RAF inhibitors and options for salvage therapy are incompletely understood. We performed whole-exome sequencing on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumors from 45 patients with BRAF(V600)-mutant metastatic melanoma who received vemurafenib or dabrafenib monotherapy. Genetic alterations in known or putative RAF inhibitor resistance genes were observed in 23 of 45 patients (51%). Besides previously characterized alterations, we discovered a "long tail" of new mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway alterations (MAP2K2, MITF) that confer RAF inhibitor resistance. In three cases, multiple resistance gene alterations were observed within the same tumor biopsy. Overall, RAF inhibitor therapy leads to diverse clinical genetic resistance mechanisms, mostly involving MAPK pathway reactivation. Novel therapeutic combinations may be needed to achieve durable clinical control of BRAF(V600)-mutant melanoma. Integrating clinical genomics with preclinical screens may model subsequent resistance studies.
Project description:Most melanomas harbor oncogenic BRAF(V600) mutations, which constitutively activate the MAPK pathway. Although MAPK pathway inhibitors show clinical benefit in BRAF(V600)-mutant melanoma, it remains incompletely understood why 10% to 20% of patients fail to respond. Here, we show that RAF inhibitor-sensitive and inhibitor-resistant BRAF(V600)-mutant melanomas display distinct transcriptional profiles. Whereas most drug-sensitive cell lines and patient biopsies showed high expression and activity of the melanocytic lineage transcription factor MITF, intrinsically resistant cell lines and biopsies displayed low MITF expression but higher levels of NF-?B signaling and the receptor tyrosine kinase AXL. In vitro, these MITF-low/NF-?B-high melanomas were resistant to inhibition of RAF and MEK, singly or in combination, and ERK. Moreover, in cell lines, NF-?B activation antagonized MITF expression and induced both resistance marker genes and drug resistance. Thus, distinct cell states characterized by MITF or NF-?B activity may influence intrinsic resistance to MAPK pathway inhibitors in BRAF(V600)-mutant melanoma.Although most BRAF(V600)-mutant melanomas are sensitive to RAF and/or MEK inhibitors, a subset fails to respond to such treatment. This study characterizes a transcriptional cell state distinction linked to MITF and NF-?B that may modulate intrinsic sensitivity of melanomas to MAPK pathway inhibitors.
Project description:The use of targeted therapeutics directed against BRAF(V600)-mutant metastatic melanoma improves progression-free survival in many patients; however, acquired drug resistance remains a major medical challenge. By far, the most common clinical resistance mechanism involves reactivation of the MAPK (RAF/MEK/ERK) pathway by a variety of mechanisms. Thus, targeting ERK itself has emerged as an attractive therapeutic concept, and several ERK inhibitors have entered clinical trials. We sought to preemptively determine mutations in ERK1/2 that confer resistance to either ERK inhibitors or combined RAF/MEK inhibition in BRAF(V600)-mutant melanoma. Using a random mutagenesis screen, we identified multiple point mutations in ERK1 (MAPK3) and ERK2 (MAPK1) that could confer resistance to ERK or RAF/MEK inhibitors. ERK inhibitor-resistant alleles were sensitive to RAF/MEK inhibitors and vice versa, suggesting that the future development of alternating RAF/MEK and ERK inhibitor regimens might help circumvent resistance to these agents.
Project description:BRAF mutations occur in approximately 10% of colorectal cancers. Although RAF inhibitor monotherapy is highly effective in BRAF-mutant melanoma, response rates in BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer are poor. Recent clinical trials of combined RAF/EGFR or RAF/MEK inhibition have produced improved efficacy, but patients ultimately develop resistance. To identify molecular alterations driving clinical acquired resistance, we performed whole-exome sequencing on paired pretreatment and postprogression tumor biopsies from patients with BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer treated with RAF inhibitor combinations. We identified alterations in MAPK pathway genes in resistant tumors not present in matched pretreatment tumors, including KRAS amplification, BRAF amplification, and a MEK1 mutation. These alterations conferred resistance to RAF/EGFR or RAF/MEK combinations through sustained MAPK pathway activity, but an ERK inhibitor could suppress MAPK activity and overcome resistance. Identification of MAPK pathway reactivating alterations upon clinical acquired resistance underscores the MAPK pathway as a critical target in BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer and suggests therapeutic options to overcome resistance.RAF inhibitor combinations represent promising approaches in clinical development for BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer. Initial characterization of clinical acquired resistance mechanisms to these regimens identified several MAPK pathway alterations driving resistance by reactivating MAPK signaling, highlighting the critical dependence of BRAF-mutant colorectal cancers on MAPK signaling and offering potential strategies to overcome resistance.
Project description:BRAF mutations occur in 10-15% of colorectal cancers (CRCs) and confer adverse outcome. While RAF inhibitors such as vemurafenib (PLX4032) have proven effective in BRAF mutant melanoma, they are surprisingly ineffective in BRAF mutant CRCs, and the reason for this disparity remains unclear. Compared to BRAF mutant melanoma cells, BRAF mutant CRC cells were less sensitive to vemurafenib, and P-ERK suppression was not sustained in response to treatment. Although transient inhibition of phospho-ERK by vemurafenib was observed in CRC, rapid ERK re-activation occurred through EGFR-mediated activation of RAS and CRAF. BRAF mutant CRCs expressed higher levels of phospho-EGFR than BRAF mutant melanomas, suggesting that CRCs are specifically poised for EGFR-mediated resistance. Combined RAF and EGFR inhibition blocked reactivation of MAPK signaling in BRAF mutant CRC cells and markedly improved efficacy in vitro and in vivo. These findings support evaluation of combined RAF and EGFR inhibition in BRAF mutant CRC patients.BRAF valine 600 (V600) mutations occur in 10% to 15% of colorectal cancers, yet these tumors show a surprisingly low clinical response rate (~5%) to selective RAF inhibitors such as vemurafenib, which have produced dramatic response rates (60%–80%) in melanomas harboring the identical BRAF V600 mutation. We found that EGFR-mediated MAPK pathway reactivation leads to resistance to vemurafenib in BRAF-mutant colorectal cancers and that combined RAF and EGFR inhibition can lead to sustained MAPK pathway suppression and improved efficacy in vitro and in tumor xenografts.
Project description:In melanoma, dysregulation of the MAPK pathway, usually via BRAF(V600) or NRAS(Q61) somatic mutations, leads to constitutive ERK signaling. While BRAF inhibitors are initially effective for BRAF-mutant melanoma, no FDA-approved targeted therapies exist for BRAF-inhibitor-resistant BRAF(V600), NRAS mutant, or wild-type melanoma.The 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) of SCH772984, a novel inhibitor of ERK1/2, was determined in a panel of 50 melanoma cell lines. Effects on MAPK and AKT signaling by western blotting and cell cycle by flow cytometry were determined.Sensitivity fell into three groups: sensitive, 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) < 1 ?M; intermediately sensitive, IC50 1-2 ?M; and resistant, >2 ?M. Fifteen of 21 (71%) BRAF mutants, including 4 with innate vemurafenib resistance, were sensitive to SCH772984. All three (100%) BRAF/NRAS double mutants, 11 of 14 (78%) NRAS mutants and 5 of 7 (71%) wild-type melanomas were sensitive. Among BRAF(V600) mutants with in vitro acquired resistance to vemurafenib, those with MAPK pathway reactivation as the mechanism of resistance were sensitive to SCH772984. SCH772984 caused G1 arrest and induced apoptosis.Combining vemurafenib and SCH722984 in BRAF mutant melanoma was synergistic in a majority of cell lines and significantly delayed the onset of acquired resistance in long term in vitro assays. Therefore, SCH772984 may be clinically applicable as a treatment for non-BRAF mutant melanoma or in BRAF-mutant melanoma with innate or acquired resistance, alone or in combination with BRAF inhibitors.
Project description:Rapidly accelerated fibrosarcoma (RAF) inhibitors are first-line treatments for patients harboring V600E/K mutant BRAF melanoma. Although RAF inhibitors produce high response rates, the degree of tumor regression is heterogeneous. Compensatory/adaptive responses to targeted inhibitors are frequently initiated by the activation of growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases, including ErbB3, and factors from the tumor microenvironment may play an important role. We have shown previously that mutant v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B1 (BRAF) melanoma cells have enhanced activation of ErbB3 following RAF inhibition. However, the source of neuregulin 1 (NRG1), the ligand for ErbB3, is unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that NRG1 is highly expressed by dermal fibroblasts and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) isolated from mutant BRAF melanomas. Conditioned medium from fibroblasts and CAFs enhanced ErbB3 pathway activation and limited RAF inhibitor cytotoxicity in V600 mutant BRAF-harboring melanomas. Targeting the ErbB3/ErbB2 pathway partially reversed the protective effects of fibroblast/CAF-derived NRG1 on cell growth properties of RAF inhibitor-treated melanoma cells. These findings support the idea that NRG1, acting in a paracrine manner, promotes resistance to RAF inhibitors and emphasize that targeting the ErbB3/ErbB2 pathway will likely improve the efficacy of RAF inhibitors for mutant BRAF melanoma patients.
Project description:The discovery that a subset of human tumours is dependent on mutationally deregulated BRAF kinase intensified the development of RAF inhibitors to be used as potential therapeutics. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved second-generation RAF inhibitors vemurafenib and dabrafenib have elicited remarkable responses and improved survival of patients with BRAF-V600E/K melanoma, but their effectiveness is limited by resistance. Beyond melanoma, current clinical RAF inhibitors show modest efficacy when used for colorectal and thyroid BRAF-V600E tumours or for tumours harbouring BRAF alterations other than the V600 mutation. Accumulated experimental and clinical evidence indicates that the complex biochemical mechanisms of RAF kinase signalling account both for the effectiveness of RAF inhibitors and for the various mechanisms of tumour resistance to them. Recently, a number of next-generation RAF inhibitors, with diverse structural and biochemical properties, have entered preclinical and clinical development. In this Review, we discuss the current understanding of RAF kinase regulation, mechanisms of inhibitor action and related clinical resistance to these drugs. The recent elucidation of critical structural and biochemical aspects of RAF inhibitor action, combined with the availability of a number of structurally diverse RAF inhibitors currently in preclinical and clinical development, will enable the design of more effective RAF inhibitors and RAF-inhibitor-based therapeutic strategies, tailored to different clinical contexts.
Project description:RAF inhibitors such as vemurafenib and dabrafenib block BRAF-mediated cell proliferation and achieve meaningful clinical benefit in the vast majority of patients with BRAF(V600E)-mutant melanoma. However, some patients do not respond to this regimen, and nearly all progress to therapeutic resistance. We used a pooled RNA interference screen targeting more than 16,500 genes to discover loss-of-function events that could drive resistance to RAF inhibition. The highest ranking gene was NF1, which encodes neurofibromin, a tumor suppressor that inhibits RAS activity. NF1 loss mediates resistance to RAF and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase kinase (MEK) inhibitors through sustained MAPK pathway activation. However, cells lacking NF1 retained sensitivity to the irreversible RAF inhibitor AZ628 and an ERK inhibitor. NF1 mutations were observed in BRAF-mutant tumor cells that are intrinsically resistant to RAF inhibition and in melanoma tumors obtained from patients exhibiting resistance to vemurafenib, thus showing the clinical potential for NF1-driven resistance to RAF/MEK-targeted therapies.
Project description:Following mutations in BRAF and NRAS, the RAC1 c.85C>T single-nucleotide variant (SNV) encoding P29S amino acid change represents the next most frequently observed protein-coding hotspot mutation in melanoma. However, the biologic and clinical significance of the RAC1 P29S somatic mutation in approximately 4% to 9% of patients remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that melanoma cell lines possessing the RAC1 hotspot variant are resistant to RAF inhibitors (vemurafenib and dabrafenib). Enforced expression of RAC1 P29S in sensitive BRAF-mutant melanoma cell lines confers resistance manifested by increased viability, decreased apoptosis, and enhanced tumor growth in vivo upon treatment with RAF inhibitors. Conversely, RNAi-mediated silencing of endogenous RAC1 P29S in a melanoma cell line with a co-occurring BRAF V600 mutation increased sensitivity to vemurafenib and dabrafenib. Our results suggest RAC1 P29S status may offer a predictive biomarker for RAF inhibitor resistance in melanoma patients, where it should be evaluated clinically.
Project description:RAF kinase inhibitors are clinically active in patients with BRAF (V600E) mutant melanoma. However, rarely do tumors regress completely, with the majority of responses being short-lived. This is partially mediated through the loss of negative feedback loops after MAPK inhibition and reactivation of upstream signaling. Here, we demonstrate that the deubiquitinating enzyme USP28 functions through a feedback loop to destabilize RAF family members. Loss of USP28 stabilizes BRAF enhancing downstream MAPK activation and promotes resistance to RAF inhibitor therapy in culture and in vivo models. Importantly, we demonstrate that USP28 is deleted in a proportion of melanoma patients and may act as a biomarker for response to BRAF inhibitor therapy in patients. Furthermore, we identify Rigosertib as a possible therapeutic strategy for USP28-depleted tumors. Our results show that loss of USP28 enhances MAPK activity through the stabilization of RAF family members and is a key factor in BRAF inhibitor resistance.