PLX4032, a selective BRAF(V600E) kinase inhibitor, activates the ERK pathway and enhances cell migration and proliferation of BRAF melanoma cells.


BRAF(V600E/K) is a frequent mutationally active tumor-specific kinase in melanomas that is currently targeted for therapy by the specific inhibitor PLX4032. Our studies with melanoma tumor cells that are BRAF(V600E/K) and BRAF(WT) showed that, paradoxically, while PLX4032 inhibited ERK1/2 in the highly sensitive BRAF(V600E/K), it activated the pathway in the resistant BRAF(WT) cells, via RAF1 activation, regardless of the status of mutations in NRAS or PTEN. The persistently active ERK1/2 triggered downstream effectors in BRAF(WT) melanoma cells and induced changes in the expression of a wide-spectrum of genes associated with cell cycle control. Furthermore, PLX4032 increased the rate of proliferation of growth factor-dependent NRAS Q61L mutant primary melanoma cells, reduced cell adherence and increased mobility of cells from advanced lesions. The results suggest that the drug can confer an advantage to BRAF(WT) primary and metastatic tumor cells in vivo and provide markers for monitoring clinical responses.

Pigment cell & melanoma research