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Cancer Res. 2006 Aug 15;66(16):8200-9.

Targeting mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase in the mutant (V600E) B-Raf signaling cascade effectively inhibits melanoma lung metastases.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


Malignant melanoma has a high propensity for metastatic spread, making it the most deadly form of skin cancer. B-RAF has been identified as the most mutated gene in these invasive cells and therefore an attractive therapeutic target. However, for uncertain reasons, chemotherapy inhibiting B-Raf has not been clinically effective. This has raised questions whether this pathway is important in melanoma metastasis or whether targeting a protein other than B-Raf in the signaling cascade could more effectively inhibit this pathway to reduce lung metastases. Here, we investigated the role played by (V600E)B-Raf in melanoma metastasis and showed that targeting this signaling cascade significantly reduces lung metastases. Small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated inhibition was used in mice to reduce expression (activity) of each member of the signaling cascade and effects on metastasis development were measured. Targeting any member of the signaling cascade reduced metastasis but inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (Mek) 1 and Mek 2 almost completely prevented lung tumor development. Mechanistically, metastatic inhibition was mediated through reduction of melanoma cell extravasation through the endothelium and decreased proliferative capacity. Targeting B-Raf with the pharmacologic inhibitor BAY 43-9006, which was found ineffective in clinical trials and seems to act primarily as an angiogenesis inhibitor, did not decrease metastasis, whereas inhibition of Mek using U0126 decreased cellular proliferative capacity, thereby effectively reducing number and size of lung metastases. In summary, this study provides a mechanistic basis for targeting Mek and not B-Raf in the mutant (V600E)B-Raf signaling cascade to inhibit melanoma metastases.

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