Continuous BRAF inhibition of BRAF mutant melanomas triggers a series of cell state changes that lead to therapy resistance and escape from immune control before establishing acquired resistance genetically. We used genome-wide transcriptomics and single-cell phenotyping to explore the response kinetics to BRAF inhibition for a panel of patient-derived BRAFV600-mutant melanoma cell lines. A subset of plastic cell lines, which followed a trajectory covering multiple known cell state transitions, provided models for more detailed biophysical investigations. Markovmodeling revealed that the cell state transitions were reversible and mediated by both Lamarckian induction and nongenetic Darwinian selection of drug-tolerant states. Single-cell functional proteomics revealed activation of certain signaling networks shortly after BRAF inhibition, and before the appearance of drug-resistant phenotypes. Drug targeting those networks, in combination with BRAF inhibition, halted the adaptive transition and led to prolonged growth inhibition in multiple patient-derived cell lines.
Su, Y., Wei, W., Robert, L., Xue, M., Tsoi, J., Garcia-Diaz, A., … Heath, J. R. (2017). Single-cell analysis resolves the cell state transition and signaling dynamics associated with melanoma drug-induced resistance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(52), 13679–13684. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1712064115