Beneficial effects of RAF inhibitor in mutant BRAF splice variant-expressing melanoma.
ABSTRACT: 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: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:Resistance to BRAF inhibitors is a major clinical problem. Here, we evaluate BI-847325, an ATP-competitive inhibitor of MEK and Aurora kinases, in treatment-naïve and drug-resistant BRAF-mutant melanoma models. BI-847325 potently inhibited growth and survival of melanoma cell lines that were both BRAF inhibitor naïve and resistant in 2D culture, 3D cell culture conditions, and in colony formation assays. Western blot studies showed BI-847325 to reduce expression of phospho-ERK and phospho-histone 3 in multiple models of vemurafenib resistance. Mechanistically, BI-847325 decreased the expression of MEK and Mcl-1 while increasing the expression of the proapoptotic protein BIM. Strong suppression of MEK expression was observed after 48 hours of treatment, with no recovery following >72 hours of washout. siRNA-mediated knockdown of Mcl-1 enhanced the effects of BI-847325, whereas Mcl-1 overexpression reversed this in both 2D cell culture and 3D spheroid melanoma models. In vivo, once weekly BI-847325 (70 mg/kg) led to durable regression of BRAF-inhibitor naïve xenografts with no regrowth seen (>65 days of treatment). In contrast, treatment with the vemurafenib analog PLX4720 was associated with tumor relapse at >30 days. BI-847325 also suppressed the long-term growth of xenografts with acquired PLX4720 resistance. Analysis of tumor samples revealed BI-847325 to induce apoptosis associated with suppression of phospho-ERK, total MEK, phospho-Histone3, and Mcl-1 expression. Our studies indicate that BI-847325 is effective in overcoming BRAF inhibitor resistance and has long-term inhibitory effects upon BRAF-mutant melanoma in vivo, through a mechanism associated with the decreased expression of both MEK and Mcl-1.
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:Astrocytomas are the most common type of brain tumors in children. Activated BRAF protein kinase mutations are characteristic of pediatric astrocytomas with KIAA1549-BRAF fusion genes typifying low-grade astrocytomas and (V600E)BRAF alterations characterizing distinct or higher-grade tumors. Recently, BRAF-targeted therapies, such as vemurafenib, have shown great promise in treating V600E-dependent melanomas. Like (V600E)BRAF, BRAF fusion kinases activate MAPK signaling and are sufficient for malignant transformation; however, here we characterized the distinct mechanisms of action of KIAA1549-BRAF and its differential responsiveness to PLX4720, a first-generation BRAF inhibitor and research analog of vemurafenib. We found that in cells expressing KIAA1549-BRAF, the fusion kinase functions as a homodimer that is resistant to PLX4720 and accordingly is associated with CRAF-independent paradoxical activation of MAPK signaling. Mutagenesis studies demonstrated that KIAA1549-BRAF fusion-mediated signaling is diminished with disruption of the BRAF kinase dimer interface. In addition, the KIAA1549-BRAF fusion displays increased binding affinity to kinase suppressor of RAS (KSR), an RAF relative recently demonstrated to facilitate MEK phosphorylation by BRAF. Despite its resistance to PLX4720, the KIAA1549-BRAF fusion is responsive to a second-generation selective BRAF inhibitor that, unlike vemurafenib, does not induce activation of wild-type BRAF. Our data support the development of targeted treatment paradigms for BRAF-altered pediatric astrocytomas and also demonstrate that therapies must be tailored to the specific mutational context and distinct mechanisms of action of the mutant kinase.
Project description:Vemurafenib, a selective RAF inhibitor, extends survival among patients with BRAF V600E-mutant melanoma. Vemurafenib inhibits ERK signaling in BRAF V600E-mutant cells but activates ERK signaling in BRAF wild-type cells. This paradoxical activation of ERK signaling is the mechanistic basis for the development of RAS-mutant squamous-cell skin cancers in patients treated with RAF inhibitors. We report the accelerated growth of a previously unsuspected RAS-mutant leukemia in a patient with melanoma who was receiving vemurafenib. Exposure to vemurafenib induced hyperactivation of ERK signaling and proliferation of the leukemic cell population, an effect that was reversed on drug withdrawal.
Project description:Vemurafenib, a selective inhibitor of BRAF(V600), has shown significant activity in BRAF(V600) melanoma but not in less than 10% of metastatic BRAF(V600) colorectal cancers (CRC), suggesting that studies of the unique hypermethylated phenotype and concurrent oncogenic activation of BRAF(mut) CRC may provide combinatorial strategies.We conducted comparative proteomic analysis of BRAF(V600E) melanoma and CRC cell lines, followed by correlation of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway activation and sensitivity to the vemurafenib analogue PLX4720. Pharmacologic inhibitors and siRNA were used in combination with PLX4720 to inhibit PI3K and methyltransferase in cell lines and murine models.Compared with melanoma, CRC lines show higher levels of PI3K/AKT pathway activation. CRC cell lines with mutations in PTEN or PIK3CA were less sensitive to growth inhibition by PLX4720 (P = 0.03), and knockdown of PTEN expression in sensitive CRC cells reduced growth inhibition by the drug. Combined treatment of PLX4720 with PI3K inhibitors caused synergistic growth inhibition in BRAF-mutant CRC cells with both primary and secondary resistance. In addition, methyltransferase inhibition was synergistic with PLX4720 and decreased AKT activation. In vivo, PLX4720 combined with either inhibitors of AKT or methyltransferase showed greater tumor growth inhibition than PLX4720 alone. Clones with acquired resistance to PLX4720 in vitro showed PI3K/AKT activation with EGF receptor (EGFR) or KRAS amplification.We show that activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway is a mechanism of both innate and acquired resistance to BRAF inhibitors in BRAF(V600E) CRC and suggest combinatorial approaches to improve outcomes in this poor prognosis subset of patients.
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:Vemurafenib, a RAF inhibitor, extends survival in patients with BRAF(V600)-mutant melanoma but activates extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling in RAS-mutant cells. In a patient with a BRAF(V600K)-mutant melanoma responding to vemurafenib, we observed accelerated progression of a previously unrecognized NRAS-mutant leukemia. We hypothesized that combining vemurafenib with a MAP-ERK kinase (MEK) inhibitor would inhibit ERK activation in the melanoma and prevent ERK activation by vemurafenib in the leukemia, and thus suppress both malignancies. We demonstrate that intermittent administration of vemurafenib led to a near-complete remission of the melanoma, and the addition of the MEK inhibitor cobimetinib (GDC-0973) caused suppression of vemurafenib-induced leukemic proliferation and ERK activation. Antimelanoma and antileukemia responses have been maintained for nearly 20 months, as documented by serial measurements of tumor-derived DNA in plasma in addition to conventional radiographic and clinical assessments of response. These data support testing of intermittent ERK pathway inhibition in the therapy for both RAS-mutant leukemia and BRAF-mutant melanoma.