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Cancer Res. 2003 Sep 1;63(17):5198-202.

Suppression of BRAF(V599E) in human melanoma abrogates transformation.

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  • 1Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Activating mutations in the BRAF serine/threonine kinase are found in >70% of human melanomas, of which >90% are BRAF(V599E). We sought to investigate the role of the BRAF(V599E) allele in malignant melanoma. We here report that suppression of BRAF(V599E) expression by RNA interference in cultured human melanoma cells inhibits the mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade, causes growth arrest, and promotes apoptosis. Furthermore, knockdown of BRAF(V599E) expression completely abrogates the transformed phenotype as assessed by colony formation in soft agar. Similar targeting of BRAF(V599E) or wild-type BRAF in human fibrosarcoma cells that lack the BRAF(V599E) mutation does not recapitulate these effects. Moreover, these results are specific for BRAF, as targeted interference of CRAF in melanoma cells does not significantly alter their biological properties. Thus, when present, BRAF(V599E) appears to be essential for melanoma cell viability and transformation and, therefore, represents an attractive therapeutic target in the majority of melanomas that harbor the mutation.

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