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Cancer Res. 2004 Apr 1;64(7):2338-42.

V599EB-RAF is an oncogene in melanocytes.

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  • 1Signal Transduction Team, Cancer Research UK Centre of Cell and Molecular Biology, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, United Kingdom.


The oncogenic version of B-RAF, (V599E)B-RAF, is found in approximately 70% of human melanomas. However, the role that this oncogene plays in melanoma is unclear because (V559E)B-RAF is also found in approximately 80% of benign nevi. We have examined the role of oncogenic B-RAF in the early stages of melanoma by expressing (V599E)B-RAF in cultured melanocytes. In these cells, (V599E)B-RAF induced constitutive mitogen activated ERK-activating kinase (MEK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling, 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-independent growth, and tumorigenicity in nude mice. Intriguingly, in RAS-transformed melanocytes, B-RAF depletion did not block MEK-ERK signaling or cell cycle progression. Similarly, B-RAF depletion blocked MEK-ERK signaling in human melanoma cells harboring oncogenic B-RAF, but not in melanoma cells harboring oncogenic RAS. Thus, although B-RAF can act as a potent oncogene in the early stages of melanoma by signaling through MEK and ERK, it is not required for this signaling in RAS-transformed melanocytes due to innate redundancy within the pathway. These findings have important implications for future therapeutic strategies.

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