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Nat Genet. 2009 May;41(5):544-52. doi: 10.1038/ng.356. Epub 2009 Mar 12.

Braf(V600E) cooperates with Pten loss to induce metastatic melanoma.

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Cancer Research Institute & Department of Cell and Molecular Pharmacology, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


Mutational activation of BRAF is the earliest and most common genetic alteration in human melanoma. To build a model of human melanoma, we generated mice with conditional melanocyte-specific expression of BRaf(V600E). Upon induction of BRaf(V600E) expression, mice developed benign melanocytic hyperplasias that failed to progress to melanoma over 15-20 months. By contrast, expression of BRaf(V600E) combined with Pten tumor suppressor gene silencing elicited development of melanoma with 100% penetrance, short latency and with metastases observed in lymph nodes and lungs. Melanoma was prevented by inhibitors of mTorc1 (rapamycin) or MEK1/2 (PD325901) but, upon cessation of drug administration, mice developed melanoma, indicating the presence of long-lived melanoma-initiating cells in this system. Notably, combined treatment with rapamycin and PD325901 led to shrinkage of established melanomas. These mice, engineered with a common genetic profile to human melanoma, provide a system to study melanoma's cardinal feature of metastasis and for preclinical evaluation of agents designed to prevent or treat metastatic disease.

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