Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Clin Cancer Res. 2006 Apr 1;12(7 Pt 2):2371s-2375s.

Targeting the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway in the treatment of malignant melanoma.

Author information

  • 1Division of Oncology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK; i.e., Ras-Raf-Erk) pathway is an attractive target for therapeutic intervention in melanoma due to its integral role in the regulation of proliferation, invasiveness, and survival and the recent availability of pharmaceutical agents that inhibit the various kinases and GTPases that comprise the pathway. Genetic studies have identified activating mutations in either B-raf or N-ras in most cutaneous melanomas. Other studies have delineated the contribution of autocrine growth factors (e.g., hepatocyte growth factor and fibroblast growth factor) to MAPK activation in melanoma. Still, others have emphasized the consequences of the down-modulation of endogenous raf inhibitors, such as Sprouty family members (e.g., SPRY2) and raf-1 kinase inhibitory protein, in the regulation of the pathway. The diversity of molecular mechanisms used by melanoma cells to ensure the activity of the MAPK pathway attests to its importance in the evolution of the disease and the likelihood that inhibitors of the pathway may prove to be highly effective in melanoma treatment. MAPK inhibition has been shown to result in the dephosphorylation of the proapoptotic Bcl-2 family members Bad and Bim. This process in turn leads to caspase activation and, ultimately, the demise of melanoma cells through the induction of apoptosis. Several recent studies have identified non-mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase-binding partners of raf and suggested that the prosurvival effects of raf and the lethality of raf inhibition are mediated through these alternative targets, independent of the MAPK pathway. Other studies have suggested that endothelial cells are the primary targets of raf inhibitors in vivo and that the antitumor effect of these agents are largely attributable to angiogenesis inhibition. This article reviews the genetic and biochemical factors contributing to MAPK activation in melanoma, the mechanisms by which inhibition of the pathway might prove deleterious to tumor cells, and the potential of MAPK inhibitors in the treatment of the disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk