A melanoma cell state distinction influences sensitivity to MAPK pathway inhibitors.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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: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:Malignant melanomas harbouring point mutations (Val600Glu) in the serine/threonine-protein kinase BRAF (BRAF(V600E)) depend on RAF-MEK-ERK signalling for tumour cell growth. RAF and MEK inhibitors show remarkable clinical efficacy in BRAF(V600E) melanoma; however, resistance to these agents remains a formidable challenge. Global characterization of resistance mechanisms may inform the development of more effective therapeutic combinations. Here we carried out systematic gain-of-function resistance studies by expressing more than 15,500 genes individually in a BRAF(V600E) melanoma cell line treated with RAF, MEK, ERK or combined RAF-MEK inhibitors. These studies revealed a cyclic-AMP-dependent melanocytic signalling network not previously associated with drug resistance, including G-protein-coupled receptors, adenyl cyclase, protein kinase A and cAMP response element binding protein (CREB). Preliminary analysis of biopsies from BRAF(V600E) melanoma patients revealed that phosphorylated (active) CREB was suppressed by RAF-MEK inhibition but restored in relapsing tumours. Expression of transcription factors activated downstream of MAP kinase and cAMP pathways also conferred resistance, including c-FOS, NR4A1, NR4A2 and MITF. Combined treatment with MAPK-pathway and histone-deacetylase inhibitors suppressed MITF expression and cAMP-mediated resistance. Collectively, these data suggest that oncogenic dysregulation of a melanocyte lineage dependency can cause resistance to RAF-MEK-ERK inhibition, which may be overcome by combining signalling- and chromatin-directed therapeutics.
Project description:RAF and MEK (mitogen-activated or extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase kinase) inhibitors are effective in treating patients with BRAF-mutant melanoma. However, most responses are partial and short-lived, and many patients fail to respond at all. We found that suppression of TORC1 activity in response to RAF or MEK inhibitors, as measured by decreased phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 (P-S6), effectively predicted induction of cell death by the inhibitor in BRAF-mutant melanoma cell lines. In resistant melanomas, TORC1 activity was maintained after treatment with RAF or MEK inhibitors, in some cases despite robust suppression of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling. In in vivo mouse models, suppression of TORC1 after MAPK inhibition was necessary for induction of apoptosis and tumor response. Finally, in paired biopsies obtained from patients with BRAF-mutant melanoma before treatment and after initiation of RAF inhibitor therapy, P-S6 suppression predicted significantly improved progression-free survival. Such a change in P-S6 could be readily monitored in real time by serial fine-needle aspiration biopsies, making quantitation of P-S6 a valuable biomarker to guide treatment in BRAF-mutant melanoma.
Project description:V-RAF murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B1 (BRAF) mutated non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is an exceptionally rare form of lung cancer, found only in one to two percent of patients with an NSCLC diagnosis. BRAF NSCLC traditionally affects former or active smokers. BRAF mutations have always been of special interest to the oncological community, as they offer potential for targeted therapies. BRAF mutation spectrum includes mutations that are of both V600 and non-V600 types. BRAF V600 is an activating mutation, which results in high kinase activity and overproduction of active oncoproteins such as rapidly accelerated fibrosarcoma (RAF). This makes them susceptible to targeted therapies with RAF inhibitors. There has been little evidence, however, regarding efficacy of RAF inhibitors towards non-activating mutations that have intermediate to low kinase activity, such as non-V600 BRAF mutations. While several approaches have been investigated to overcome the limitations of RAF inhibitors, such as use of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) inhibitors or combination of MEK and RAF inhibitors, none of them have been proven to have a superior efficacy for low kinase activity non-V600 BRAF tumors. We present a case of an extremely rare variant of NSCLC BRAF p.T599dup mutation in a non-smoker that responded to a targeted combination therapy with RAF and MEK inhibitors. The patient responded well to therapy that usually targets high kinase activity V600 mutations. Our hope is to bring more attention to non-V600 mutations and document their responses to existing and new therapies.
Project description:MEK inhibitors are clinically active in BRAF(V600E) melanomas but only marginally so in KRAS mutant tumors. Here, we found that MEK inhibitors suppress ERK signaling more potently in BRAF(V600E), than in KRAS mutant tumors. To understand this, we performed an RNAi screen in a KRAS mutant model and found that CRAF knockdown enhanced MEK inhibition. MEK activated by CRAF was less susceptible to MEK inhibitors than when activated by BRAF(V600E). MEK inhibitors induced RAF-MEK complexes in KRAS mutant models, and disrupting such complexes enhanced inhibition of CRAF-dependent ERK signaling. Newer MEK inhibitors target MEK catalytic activity and also impair its reactivation by CRAF, either by disrupting RAF-MEK complexes or by interacting with Ser 222 to prevent MEK phosphorylation by RAF.
Project description:Approximately 50% of melanomas harbor an activating BRAF mutation. Combined BRAF and MEK inhibitors such as dabrafenib and trametinib, vemurafenib and cobimetinib, and encorafenib and binimetinib are US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved to treat patients with BRAF V600-mutated advanced melanoma. Both genetic and epigenetic alterations play a major role in resistance to BRAF inhibitors by reactivation of the MAPK and/or the PI3K-Akt pathways. The role of BRAF inhibitors in modulating the immunomicroenvironment and perhaps enhancing the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors is gaining interest. This article provides a comprehensive review of mechanisms of resistance to BRAF and MEK inhibitors in melanoma and summarizes landmark trials that led to the FDA approval of BRAF and MEK inhibitors in metastatic melanoma.
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.