[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In melanoma, dysregulation of the MAPK pathway, usually via BRAFV600 or NRASQ61 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 BRAFV600, NRAS mutant, or wild-type melanoma.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Deregulated glucose metabolism fulfils the energetic and biosynthetic requirements for tumour growth driven by oncogenes. Because inhibition of oncogenic BRAF causes profound reductions in glucose uptake and a strong clinical benefit in BRAF mutant melanoma, we examined the role of energy metabolism in responses to BRAF inhibition. We observed pronounced and consistent decreases in glycolytic activity in BRAF mutant melanoma cells. Moreover, we identified a network of BRAF-regulated transcription factors that control glycolysis in melanoma cells. Remarkably, this network of transcription factors, including HIF1α, c-Myc and MondoA, drives glycolysis downstream of BRAFV600, is critical for responses to BRAF inhibition and is modulated by BRAF inhibition in clinical melanoma specimens. Furthermore, we show that concurrent inhibition of BRAF and glycolysis induces cell death in BRAF inhibitor-resistant melanoma cells. Thus, we provide a proof of principle for treatment of melanoma with combinations of BRAF inhibitors and glycolysis inhibitors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RAF inhibitor therapy yields significant reductions in tumour burden in the majority of V600E-positive melanoma patients; however, resistance occurs within 2-18 months. Here we demonstrate that the mixed lineage kinases (MLK1-4) are MEK kinases that reactivate the MEK/ERK pathway in the presence of RAF inhibitors. Expression of MLK1-4 mediates resistance to RAF inhibitors and promotes survival in V600E-positive melanoma cell lines. Furthermore, we observe upregulation of the MLKs in 9 of 21 melanoma patients with acquired drug resistance. Consistent with this observation, MLKs promote resistance to RAF inhibitors in mouse models and contribute to acquired resistance in a cell line model. Lastly, we observe that a majority of MLK1 mutations identified in patients are gain-of-function mutations. In summary, our data demonstrate a role for MLKs as direct activators of the MEK/ERK pathway with implications for melanomagenesis and resistance to RAF inhibitors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: (V600)BRAF mutation was identified as an ideal target for clinical therapy due to its indispensable roles in supporting melanoma initiation and progression. Despite the fact that BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) can elicit anti-tumor responses in the majority of treated patients and confer overall survival benefits, acquired drug resistance is a formidable obstacle to long-term management of the disease. Several aberrant events including RTK upregulation, NRAS mutation, mutant BRAF amplification or alternative splicing, and MEK mutation have been reported as acquired BRAFi resistance mechanisms. Clinially, detection of these resistance mechanisms help understand drug response patterns and help guide combinatorial therapeutic strategies. Therefore, quick and accurate diagnosis of the resistant mechanisms in tumor biopsies has become an important starting point for personalized therapy. In this chapter, we review the major acquired BRAFi resistance mechanisms, highlight their therapeutic implications, and provide the diagnostic methods from clinical samples.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Keratoacanthomas (KAs) and cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (cuSCCs) develop in 15-30% of patients with BRAF(V600E) metastatic melanoma treated with BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi). These lesions resemble mouse skin tumors induced by the two-stage DMBA/TPA skin carcinogenesis protocol; in this protocol BRAFi accelerates tumor induction. Since prior studies demonstrated cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) is necessary for DMBA/TPA tumor induction, we hypothesized that COX-2 inhibition might prevent BRAFi-accelerated skin tumors. Celecoxib, a COX-2 inhibitor, significantly delayed tumor acceleration by the BRAFi inhibitor PLX7420 and decreased tumor number by 90%. Tumor gene expression profiling demonstrated that celecoxib partially reversed the PLX4720-induced gene signature. In PDV cuSCC cells, vemurafenib (a clinically approved BRAFi) increased ERK phosphorylation and soft agar colony formation; both responses were greatly decreased by celecoxib. In clinical trials trametinib, a MEK inhibitor (MEKi) increases BRAFi therapy efficacy in BRAF(V600E) melanomas and reduces BRAFi-induced KA and cuSCC frequency. Trametinib also reduced vemurafenib-induced PDV soft agar colonies, but less efficiently than celecoxib. The trametinb/celecoxib combination was more effective than either inhibitor alone. In conclusion, celecoxib suppressed both BRAFi-accelerated skin tumors and soft-agar colonies, warranting its testing as a chemopreventive agent for non-melanoma skin lesions in patients treated with BRAFi alone or in combination with MEKi.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BRAF inhibitors elicit rapid antitumor responses in the majority of patients with BRAF(V600)-mutant melanoma, but acquired drug resistance is almost universal. We sought to identify the core resistance pathways and the extent of tumor heterogeneity during disease progression. We show that mitogen-activated protein kinase reactivation mechanisms were detected among 70% of disease-progressive tissues, with RAS mutations, mutant BRAF amplification, and alternative splicing being most common. We also detected PI3K-PTEN-AKT-upregulating genetic alterations among 22% of progressive melanomas. Distinct molecular lesions in both core drug escape pathways were commonly detected concurrently in the same tumor or among multiple tumors from the same patient. Beyond harboring extensively heterogeneous resistance mechanisms, melanoma regrowth emerging from BRAF inhibitor selection displayed branched evolution marked by altered mutational spectra/signatures and increased fitness. Thus, melanoma genomic heterogeneity contributes significantly to BRAF inhibitor treatment failure, implying upfront, cotargeting of two core pathways as an essential strategy for durable responses.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BRAF inhibitor (BRAFi) therapy leads to remarkable anti melanoma responses, but the initial tumor shrinkage is commonly incomplete, providing a nidus for subsequent disease progression. Adaptive signaling may underlie early BRAFi resistance and influence the selection pattern for genetic variants, causing late, acquired resistance. We show here that BRAFi (or BRAFi + MEKi) therapy in patients frequently led to rebound phosphorylated AKT (p-AKT) levels in their melanomas early on-treatment. In cell lines, BRAFi treatment led to rebound levels of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK; including PDGFRβ), phosphatidyl (3,4,5)-triphosphate (PIP3), pleckstrin homology domain recruitment, and p-AKT. PTEN expression limited this BRAFi-elicited PI3K-AKT signaling, which could be rescued by the introduction of a mutant AKT1 (Q79K) known to confer acquired BRAFi resistance. Functionally, AKT1(Q79K) conferred BRAFi resistance via amplification of BRAFi-elicited PI3K-AKT signaling. In addition, mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway inhibition enhanced clonogenic growth dependency on PI3K or AKT. Thus, adaptive or genetic upregulation of AKT critically participates in melanoma survival during BRAFi therapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent insights into the genetic and somatic aberrations have initiated a new era of rapidly evolving targeted and immune-based treatments for melanoma. After decades of unsuccessful attempts to finding a more effective cure in the treatment of melanoma now we have several drugs active in melanoma. The possibility to use these drugs in combination to improve responses to overcome the resistance, to potentiate the action of immune system with the new immunomodulating antibodies, and identification of biomarkers that can predict the response to a particular therapy represent new concepts and approaches in the clinical management of melanoma. The third "Melanoma Research: "A bridge from Naples to the World" meeting, shortened as "Bridge Melanoma Meeting" took place in Naples, December 2 to 4th, 2012. The four topics of discussion at this meeting were: advances in molecular profiling and novel biomarkers, combination therapies, novel concepts toward integrating biomarkers and therapies into contemporary clinical management of patients with melanoma across the entire spectrum of disease stage, and the knowledge gained from the biology of tumor microenvironment across different tumors as a bridge to impact on prognosis and response to therapy in melanoma. This international congress gathered more than 30 international faculty members who in an interactive atmosphere which stimulated discussion and exchange of their experience regarding the most recent advances in research and clinical management of melanoma patients.
Journal of Translational Medicine 06/2013; 11(1):137. · 3.46 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PURPOSETo assess pharmacodynamic effects and intrinsic and acquired resistance mechanisms of the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib in BRAF(V600)-mutant melanoma, leading to an understanding of the mechanism of action of vemurafenib and ultimately to optimization of metastatic melanoma therapy. METHODS
In the phase II clinical study NP22657 (BRIM-2), patients received oral doses of vemurafenib (960 mg twice per day). Serial biopsies were collected to study changes in mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, cell-cycle progression, and factors causing intrinsic or acquired resistance by immunohistochemistry, DNA sequencing, or somatic mutation profiling.ResultsVemurafenib inhibited MAPK signaling and cell-cycle progression. An association between the decrease in extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) phosphorylation and objective response was observed in paired biopsies (n = 22; P = .013). Low expression of phosphatase and tensin homolog showed a modest association with lower response. Baseline mutations in MEK1(P124) coexisting with BRAF(V600) were noted in seven of 92 samples; their presence did not preclude objective tumor responses. Acquired resistance to vemurafenib associated with reactivation of MAPK signaling as observed by elevated ERK1/2 phosphorylation levels in progressive lesions and the appearance of secondary NRAS(Q61) mutations or MEK1(Q56P) or MEK1(E203K) mutations. These two activating MEK1 mutations had not previously been observed in vivo in biopsies of progressive melanoma tumors. CONCLUSION
Vemurafenib inhibits tumor proliferation and oncogenic BRAF signaling through the MAPK pathway. Acquired resistance results primarily from MAPK reactivation driven by the appearance of secondary mutations in NRAS and MEK1 in subsets of patients. The data suggest that inhibition downstream of BRAF should help to overcome acquired resistance.
Journal of Clinical Oncology 04/2013; · 18.04 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Confined to one cell: A method to detect and isolate single circulating melanoma cells (CMCs; see figure) has been produced by integrating a polymer-nanofiber-embedded nanovelcro cell-affinity assay with a laser microdissection (LMD) technique. This method is able to separate CMCs from normal white blood cells (WBCs) and sequence individual cells for a specific mutation related to cancer progression, allowing for more personalized cancer therapy.
Angewandte Chemie International Edition 02/2013; · 11.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transparente Polymer‐Nanofaser‐Substrate ergaben in Kombination mit Laser‐Mikrodissektion eine neue Technik zur Isolierung einzelner Zellen, wie H.‐R. Tseng et al. in ihrer Zuschrift auf S. 3463 ff. berichten. Mit diesem neuen Verfahren wurden einzelne zirkulierende Melanomzellen (CMCs) aus dem Blut von Patienten isoliert, um eine Einzelzell‐Genotypisierung durchzuführen und eine Mutation im Proto‐Onkogen BRAF zu identifizieren.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Targeted therapies are increasingly being used to treat a variety of cancers. Their efficacy depends upon the accurate detection and targeting of a specific mutation or aberration in the tumour. All cancers such as melanoma are molecularly heterogeneous, with drug resistant subclones present prior to treatment or emerging as a result of targeted therapies. Here we show intra-lesional molecular heterogeneity in a progressing V600E BRAF-mutant melanoma metastasis from a patient treated for 7 months with the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib. In the single metastasis, two distinct subclones were observed, both V600E BRAF-mutant, and only one with an additional G13R NRAS-mutation. Molecular heterogeneity even at the intra-lesional level demonstrates that personalising or adjusting therapies based on genotyping of a portion of a single lesion, might not accurately depict the molecular profile or drivers of oncogenesis across the entire patient's melanoma.
Molecular Cancer Therapeutics 09/2012; · 5.60 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We characterized the mutational landscape of melanoma, the form of skin cancer with the highest mortality rate, by sequencing the exomes of 147 melanomas. Sun-exposed melanomas had markedly more ultraviolet (UV)-like C>T somatic mutations compared to sun-shielded acral, mucosal and uveal melanomas. Among the newly identified cancer genes was PPP6C, encoding a serine/threonine phosphatase, which harbored mutations that clustered in the active site in 12% of sun-exposed melanomas, exclusively in tumors with mutations in BRAF or NRAS. Notably, we identified a recurrent UV-signature, an activating mutation in RAC1 in 9.2% of sun-exposed melanomas. This activating mutation, the third most frequent in our cohort of sun-exposed melanoma after those of BRAF and NRAS, changes Pro29 to serine (RAC1(P29S)) in the highly conserved switch I domain. Crystal structures, and biochemical and functional studies of RAC1(P29S) showed that the alteration releases the conformational restraint conferred by the conserved proline, causes an increased binding of the protein to downstream effectors, and promotes melanocyte proliferation and migration. These findings raise the possibility that pharmacological inhibition of downstream effectors of RAC1 signaling could be of therapeutic benefit.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The inactivation of the p53 tumor suppressor pathway, which often occurs through mutations in TP53 (encoding tumor protein 53) is a common step in human cancer. However, in melanoma-a highly chemotherapy-resistant disease-TP53 mutations are rare, raising the possibility that this cancer uses alternative ways to overcome p53-mediated tumor suppression. Here we show that Mdm4 p53 binding protein homolog (MDM4), a negative regulator of p53, is upregulated in a substantial proportion (∼65%) of stage I-IV human melanomas and that melanocyte-specific Mdm4 overexpression enhanced tumorigenesis in a mouse model of melanoma induced by the oncogene Nras. MDM4 promotes the survival of human metastatic melanoma by antagonizing p53 proapoptotic function. Notably, inhibition of the MDM4-p53 interaction restored p53 function in melanoma cells, resulting in increased sensitivity to cytotoxic chemotherapy and to inhibitors of the BRAF (V600E) oncogene. Our results identify MDM4 as a key determinant of impaired p53 function in human melanoma and designate MDM4 as a promising target for antimelanoma combination therapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Drug resistance presents a challenge to the treatment of cancer patients. Many studies have focused on cell-autonomous mechanisms of drug resistance. By contrast, we proposed that the tumour micro-environment confers innate resistance to therapy. Here we developed a co-culture system to systematically assay the ability of 23 stromal cell types to influence the innate resistance of 45 cancer cell lines to 35 anticancer drugs. We found that stroma-mediated resistance is common, particularly to targeted agents. We characterized further the stroma-mediated resistance of BRAF-mutant melanoma to RAF inhibitors because most patients with this type of cancer show some degree of innate resistance. Proteomic analysis showed that stromal cell secretion of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) resulted in activation of the HGF receptor MET, reactivation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase (PI(3)K)-AKT signalling pathways, and immediate resistance to RAF inhibition. Immunohistochemistry experiments confirmed stromal cell expression of HGF in patients with BRAF-mutant melanoma and showed a significant correlation between HGF expression by stromal cells and innate resistance to RAF inhibitor treatment. Dual inhibition of RAF and either HGF or MET resulted in reversal of drug resistance, suggesting RAF plus HGF or MET inhibitory combination therapy as a potential therapeutic strategy for BRAF-mutant melanoma. A similar resistance mechanism was uncovered in a subset of BRAF-mutant colorectal and glioblastoma cell lines. More generally, this study indicates that the systematic dissection of interactions between tumours and their micro-environment can uncover important mechanisms underlying drug resistance.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) induce antitumor responses in nearly 60% of patients with advanced V600E/KBRAF melanomas. Somatic activating MEK1 mutations are thought to be rare in melanomas, but their potential concurrence with V600E/KBRAF may be selected for by BRAFi. We sequenced MEK1/2 exon 3 in melanomas at baseline and upon disease progression. Of 31 baseline V600E/KBRAF melanomas, 5 (16%) carried concurrent somatic BRAF/MEK1 activating mutations. Three of 5 patients with BRAF/MEK1 double-mutant baseline melanomas showed objective tumor responses, consistent with the overall 60% frequency. No MEK1 mutation was found in disease progression melanomas, except when it was already identified at baseline. MEK1-mutant expression in V600E/KBRAF melanoma cell lines resulted in no significant alterations in p-ERK1/2 levels or growth-inhibitory sensitivities to BRAFi, MEK1/2 inhibitor (MEKi), or their combination. Thus, activating MEK1 exon 3 mutations identified herein and concurrent with V600E/KBRAF do not cause BRAFi resistance in melanoma. SIGNIFICANCE: As BRAF inhibitors gain widespread use for treatment of advanced melanoma, biomarkers for drug sensitivity or resistance are urgently needed. We identify here concurrent activating mutations in BRAF and MEK1 in melanomas and show that the presence of a downstream mutation in MEK1 does not necessarily make BRAF–mutant melanomas resistant to BRAF inhibitors.
Cancer Discovery 05/2012; 2(5):414-24. · 15.93 Impact Factor