Vemurafenib/PLX4032, a selective inhibitor of mutant BRAFV600E, constitutes a paradigm shift in melanoma therapy. Unfortunately, acquired resistance, which unavoidably occurs, represents one major limitation to clinical responses. Recent studies have highlighted that vemurafenib activated oxidative metabolism in BRAFV600E melanomas expressing PGC1a. However, the oxidative state of melanoma resistant to BRAF inhibitors is unknown. We established representative in vitro and in vivo models of human melanoma resistant to vemurafenib including primary specimens derived from melanoma patients. Firstly, our study reveals that vemurafenib increased mitochondrial respiration and ROS production in BRAFV600E melanoma cell lines regardless the expression of PGC1a. Secondly, melanoma cells that have acquired resistance to vemurafenib displayed intrinsically high rates of mitochondrial respiration associated with elevated mitochondrial oxidative stress irrespective of the presence of vemurafenib. Thirdly, the elevated ROS level rendered vemurafenib-resistant melanoma cells prone to cell death induced by pro-oxidants including the clinical trial drug, elesclomol. Based on these observations, we propose that the mitochondrial oxidative signature of resistant melanoma constitutes a novel opportunity to overcome resistance to BRAF inhibition.
Corazao-Rozas, P., Guerreschi, P., Jendoubi, M., André, F., Jonneaux, A., Scalbert, C., … Marchetti, P. (2015). Mitochondrial oxidative stress is the achille’s heel of melanoma cells resistant to Braf-mutant inhibitor. Oncotarget, 4(11). https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.1420