Inhibition of mutant BRAF splice variant signaling by next-generation, selective RAF inhibitors.
ABSTRACT: Vemurafenib and dabrafenib block MEK-ERK1/2 signaling and cause tumor regression in the majority of advanced-stage BRAF(V600E) melanoma patients; however, acquired resistance and paradoxical signaling have driven efforts for more potent and selective RAF inhibitors. Next-generation RAF inhibitors, such as PLX7904 (PB04), effectively inhibit RAF signaling in BRAF(V600E) melanoma cells without paradoxical effects in wild-type cells. Furthermore, PLX7904 blocks the growth of vemurafenib-resistant BRAF(V600E) cells that express mutant NRAS. Acquired resistance to vemurafenib and dabrafenib is also frequently driven by expression of mutation BRAF splice variants; thus, we tested the effects of PLX7904 and its clinical analog, PLX8394 (PB03), in BRAF(V600E) splice variant-mediated vemurafenib-resistant cells. We show that paradox-breaker RAF inhibitors potently block MEK-ERK1/2 signaling, G1/S cell cycle events, survival and growth of vemurafenib/PLX4720-resistant cells harboring distinct BRAF(V600E) splice variants. These data support the further investigation of paradox-breaker RAF inhibitors as a second-line treatment option for patients failing on vemurafenib or dabrafenib.
Project description:The RAF inhibitor vemurafenib achieves remarkable clinical responses in mutant BRAF melanoma patients. However, vemurafenib is burdened by acquired drug resistance and by the side effects associated with its paradoxical activation of the ERK1/2 pathway in wild-type BRAF cells. This paradoxical effect has driven the development of a new class of RAF inhibitors. Here, we tested one of these selective, non-paradox-inducing RAF inhibitors termed paradox-breaker-04 (PB04) or PLX7904. Consistent with its design, PB04 is able to efficiently inhibit activation of ERK1/2 in mutant BRAF melanoma cells but does not hyperactivate ERK1/2 in mutant RAS-expressing cells. Importantly, PB04 inhibited ERK1/2 phosphorylation in mutant BRAF melanoma cells with acquired resistance to vemurafenib/PLX4720 that is mediated by a secondary mutation in NRAS. Consistent with ERK1/2 reactivation driving the re-acquisition of malignant properties, PB04 promoted apoptosis and inhibited entry into S phase and anchorage-independent growth in mutant N-RAS-mediated vemurafenib-resistant cells. These data indicate that paradox-breaker RAF inhibitors may be clinically effective as a second-line option in a cohort of acquired vemurafenib-resistant patients.
Project description:Selective RAF inhibitors including vemurafenib (PLX4032) have demonstrated clinical efficacy in mutant BRAF driven metastatic melanoma. The clinical effectiveness of RAF inhibitors depends on near complete abolition of the MAPK pathway output in tumors harboring BRAF mutations. However these compounds paradoxically activate the MAPK pathway in cells bearing oncogenic RAS or elevated upstream receptor signaling. This paradox can promote cellular proliferation and can manifest clinically with progression of secondary malignancies such as cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (cuSCC). We have identified next generation RAF inhibitors (“paradox breakers”, e.g. PLX7904) that inhibit mutant BRAF cells without activating the MAPK pathway in cells bearing upstream activation. In murine cuSCC B9 cells that express the same HRAS mutation prevalent in squamous tumors from patients treated with RAF inhibitors, the first-generation RAF PLX4032 stimulated in vitro and in vivo growth; by contrast the paradox breaker PLX7904 had no effect. Here we compared the gene expression changes in B9 cells treated overnight with PLX4032 and PLX7904. Overall design: B9 cells were plated in 1 µM vemurafenib, 1 µM PLX7904 or 0.2% DMSO vehicle control and incubated for 17 hours. Cell lysates were harvested for RNA extraction and hybridization on Affymetrix
Project description:The recent studies have revealed that most BRAF inhibitors can paradoxically induce kinase activation by promoting dimerization and enzyme transactivation. Despite rapidly growing number of structural and functional studies about the BRAF dimer complexes, the molecular basis of paradoxical activation phenomenon is poorly understood and remains largely hypothetical. In this work, we have explored the relationships between inhibitor binding, protein dynamics and allosteric signaling in the BRAF dimers using a network-centric approach. Using this theoretical framework, we have combined molecular dynamics simulations with coevolutionary analysis and modeling of the residue interaction networks to determine molecular determinants of paradoxical activation. We have investigated functional effects produced by paradox inducer inhibitors PLX4720, Dabrafenib, Vemurafenib and a paradox breaker inhibitor PLX7904. Functional dynamics and binding free energy analyses of the BRAF dimer complexes have suggested that negative cooperativity effect and dimer-promoting potential of the inhibitors could be important drivers of paradoxical activation. We have introduced a protein structure network model in which coevolutionary residue dependencies and dynamic maps of residue correlations are integrated in the construction and analysis of the residue interaction networks. The results have shown that coevolutionary residues in the BRAF structures could assemble into independent structural modules and form a global interaction network that may promote dimerization. We have also found that BRAF inhibitors could modulate centrality and communication propensities of global mediating centers in the residue interaction networks. By simulating allosteric communication pathways in the BRAF structures, we have determined that paradox inducer and breaker inhibitors may activate specific signaling routes that correlate with the extent of paradoxical activation. While paradox inducer inhibitors may facilitate a rapid and efficient communication via an optimal single pathway, the paradox breaker may induce a broader ensemble of suboptimal and less efficient communication routes. The central finding of our study is that paradox breaker PLX7904 could mimic structural, dynamic and network features of the inactive BRAF-WT monomer that may be required for evading paradoxical activation. The results of this study rationalize the existing structure-functional experiments by offering a network-centric rationale of the paradoxical activation phenomenon. We argue that BRAF inhibitors that amplify dynamic features of the inactive BRAF-WT monomer and intervene with the allosteric interaction networks may serve as effective paradox breakers in cellular environment.
Project description:Here, we applied optoRAF, an optogenetic tool for light-controlled clustering and activation of RAF proteins that mimics the natural occurring RAS-mediated dimerization. This versatile tool allows studying the effect on BRAF and CRAF homodimer- as well as heterodimer-induced RAF signaling. Vemurafenib and dabrafenib are two clinically approved inhibitors for BRAF that efficiently suppress the kinase activity of oncogenic BRAF (V600E). However in wild-type BRAF expressing cells, BRAF inhibitors can exert paradoxical activation of wild-type CRAF. Using optoRAF, vemurafenib was identified as paradoxical activator of BRAF and CRAF homo- and heterodimers. Dabrafenib enhanced activity of light-stimulated CRAF at low dose and inhibited CRAF signaling at high dose. Moreover, dabrafenib increased the protein level of CRAF proteins but not of BRAF proteins. Increased CRAF levels correlate with elevated RAF signaling in a dabrafenib-dependent manner, independent of light activation.
Project description:BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) are standard of care for the treatment of BRAF V600 mutation-driven metastatic melanoma, but can lead to paradoxical activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling pathway. This can result in the promotion of precancerous lesions and secondary neoplasms, mainly (but not exclusively) associated with pre-existing mutations in RAS genes. We previously reported a patient with synchronous BRAF-mutated metastatic melanoma and BRAF wt /KRAS G12D-metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC), whose CRC relapsed and progressed when treated with the BRAF inhibitor dabrafenib (GSK2118436). We used tissue from the resected CRC metastasis to derive a cell line, LM-COL-1, which directly and reliably mimicked the clinical scenario including paradoxical activation of the MAPK signalling pathway resulting in increased cell proliferation upon dabrafenib treatment. Novel BRAF inhibitors (PLX8394 and PLX7904), dubbed as "paradox breakers", were developed to inhibit V600 mutated oncogenic BRAF without causing paradoxical MAPK pathway activation. In this study we used our LM-COL-1 model alongside multiple other CRC cell lines with varying mutational backgrounds to demonstrate and confirm that the paradox breaker PLX8394 retains on-target inhibition of mutated BRAF V600 without paradoxically promoting MAPK signalling.
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: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: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:Activated RAS promotes dimerization of members of the RAF kinase family. ATP-competitive RAF inhibitors activate ERK signalling by transactivating RAF dimers. In melanomas with mutant BRAF(V600E), levels of RAS activation are low and these drugs bind to BRAF(V600E) monomers and inhibit their activity. This tumour-specific inhibition of ERK signalling results in a broad therapeutic index and RAF inhibitors have remarkable clinical activity in patients with melanomas that harbour mutant BRAF(V600E). However, resistance invariably develops. Here, we identify a new resistance mechanism. We find that a subset of cells resistant to vemurafenib (PLX4032, RG7204) express a 61-kDa variant form of BRAF(V600E), p61BRAF(V600E), which lacks exons 4-8, a region that encompasses the RAS-binding domain. p61BRAF(V600E) shows enhanced dimerization in cells with low levels of RAS activation, as compared to full-length BRAF(V600E). In cells in which p61BRAF(V600E) is expressed endogenously or ectopically, ERK signalling is resistant to the RAF inhibitor. Moreover, a mutation that abolishes the dimerization of p61BRAF(V600E) restores its sensitivity to vemurafenib. Finally, we identified BRAF(V600E) splicing variants lacking the RAS-binding domain in the tumours of six of nineteen patients with acquired resistance to vemurafenib. These data support the model that inhibition of ERK signalling by RAF inhibitors is dependent on levels of RAS-GTP too low to support RAF dimerization and identify a novel mechanism of acquired resistance in patients: expression of splicing isoforms of BRAF(V600E) that dimerize in a RAS-independent manner.