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mTORC1/autophagy-regulated MerTK in mutant BRAFV600 melanoma with acquired resistance to BRAF inhibition


Abstract

BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) and the combination therapy of BRAF and MEK inhibitors (MEKi) were recently approved for therapy of metastatic melanomas harbouring the oncogenic BRAFV600 mutation. Although these therapies have shown pronounced therapeutic efficacy, the limited durability of the response indicates an acquired drug resistance that still remains mechanistically poorly understood at the molecular level. We conducted transcriptome gene profiling in BRAFi-treated melanoma cells and identified that Mer tyrosine kinase (MerTK) is specifically upregulated. MerTK overexpression was demonstrated not only in melanomas resistant to BRAFi monotherapy (5 out of 10 samples from melanoma patients) but also in melanoma resistant to BRAFi+MEKi (1 out of 3), although MEKi alone does not affect MerTK. Mechanistically, BRAFi-induced activation of Zeb2 stimulates MerTK in BRAFV600 melanoma through mTORC1-triggered activation of autophagy. Co-targeting MerTK and BRAFV600 significantly reduced tumour burden in xenografted mice, which was pheno-copied by co-inhibition of autophagy and mutant BRAFV600.

Abstract

BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) and the combination therapy of BRAF and MEK inhibitors (MEKi) were recently approved for therapy of metastatic melanomas harbouring the oncogenic BRAFV600 mutation. Although these therapies have shown pronounced therapeutic efficacy, the limited durability of the response indicates an acquired drug resistance that still remains mechanistically poorly understood at the molecular level. We conducted transcriptome gene profiling in BRAFi-treated melanoma cells and identified that Mer tyrosine kinase (MerTK) is specifically upregulated. MerTK overexpression was demonstrated not only in melanomas resistant to BRAFi monotherapy (5 out of 10 samples from melanoma patients) but also in melanoma resistant to BRAFi+MEKi (1 out of 3), although MEKi alone does not affect MerTK. Mechanistically, BRAFi-induced activation of Zeb2 stimulates MerTK in BRAFV600 melanoma through mTORC1-triggered activation of autophagy. Co-targeting MerTK and BRAFV600 significantly reduced tumour burden in xenografted mice, which was pheno-copied by co-inhibition of autophagy and mutant BRAFV600.

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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:19 September 2017
Deposited On:14 Nov 2017 14:34
Last Modified:09 Dec 2017 03:30
Publisher:Impact Journals, LLC
ISSN:1949-2553
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18213
PubMed ID:29050198

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