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Modelling vemurafenib resistance in melanoma reveals a strategy to forestall drug resistance


Das Thakur, Meghna; Salangsang, Fernando; Landman, Allison S; Sellers, William R; Pryer, Nancy K; Levesque, Mitchell P; Dummer, Reinhard; McMahon, Martin; Stuart, Darrin D (2013). Modelling vemurafenib resistance in melanoma reveals a strategy to forestall drug resistance. Nature, 494(7436):251-255.

Abstract

Mutational activation of BRAF is the most prevalent genetic alteration in human melanoma, with ≥50% of tumours expressing the BRAF(V600E) oncoprotein. Moreover, the marked tumour regression and improved survival of late-stage BRAF-mutated melanoma patients in response to treatment with vemurafenib demonstrates the essential role of oncogenic BRAF in melanoma maintenance. However, as most patients relapse with lethal drug-resistant disease, understanding and preventing mechanism(s) of resistance is critical to providing improved therapy. Here we investigate the cause and consequences of vemurafenib resistance using two independently derived primary human melanoma xenograft models in which drug resistance is selected by continuous vemurafenib administration. In one of these models, resistant tumours show continued dependency on BRAF(V600E)→MEK→ERK signalling owing to elevated BRAF(V600E) expression. Most importantly, we demonstrate that vemurafenib-resistant melanomas become drug dependent for their continued proliferation, such that cessation of drug administration leads to regression of established drug-resistant tumours. We further demonstrate that a discontinuous dosing strategy, which exploits the fitness disadvantage displayed by drug-resistant cells in the absence of the drug, forestalls the onset of lethal drug-resistant disease. These data highlight the concept that drug-resistant cells may also display drug dependency, such that altered dosing may prevent the emergence of lethal drug resistance. Such observations may contribute to sustaining the durability of the vemurafenib response with the ultimate goal of curative therapy for the subset of melanoma patients with BRAF mutations.

Mutational activation of BRAF is the most prevalent genetic alteration in human melanoma, with ≥50% of tumours expressing the BRAF(V600E) oncoprotein. Moreover, the marked tumour regression and improved survival of late-stage BRAF-mutated melanoma patients in response to treatment with vemurafenib demonstrates the essential role of oncogenic BRAF in melanoma maintenance. However, as most patients relapse with lethal drug-resistant disease, understanding and preventing mechanism(s) of resistance is critical to providing improved therapy. Here we investigate the cause and consequences of vemurafenib resistance using two independently derived primary human melanoma xenograft models in which drug resistance is selected by continuous vemurafenib administration. In one of these models, resistant tumours show continued dependency on BRAF(V600E)→MEK→ERK signalling owing to elevated BRAF(V600E) expression. Most importantly, we demonstrate that vemurafenib-resistant melanomas become drug dependent for their continued proliferation, such that cessation of drug administration leads to regression of established drug-resistant tumours. We further demonstrate that a discontinuous dosing strategy, which exploits the fitness disadvantage displayed by drug-resistant cells in the absence of the drug, forestalls the onset of lethal drug-resistant disease. These data highlight the concept that drug-resistant cells may also display drug dependency, such that altered dosing may prevent the emergence of lethal drug resistance. Such observations may contribute to sustaining the durability of the vemurafenib response with the ultimate goal of curative therapy for the subset of melanoma patients with BRAF mutations.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Dermatology Clinic
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:19 Nov 2013 14:15
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:09
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:0028-0836
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11814
PubMed ID:23302800
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-85085

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