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Oncogene. 2018 Jun;37(24):3183-3199. doi: 10.1038/s41388-018-0171-x. Epub 2018 Mar 15.

Classifying BRAF alterations in cancer: new rational therapeutic strategies for actionable mutations.

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Goodman Cancer Research Centre, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.
Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.
Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.
Department of Biochemistry, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.
Goodman Cancer Research Centre, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.
Department of Biochemistry, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.


The RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK signaling cascade is among the most frequently mutated pathways in human cancer. Approximately 50% of melanoma patients possess a druggable hotspot V600E/K mutation in the BRAF protein kinase. FDA-approved combination therapies of BRAF and MEK inhibitors are available that provide survival benefits to patients with a BRAF V600 mutation. Non-V600 BRAF mutants are found in many cancers, and are more prevalent than V600 mutations in certain tumor types. For example, between 50-80% of BRAF mutations in non-small cell lung cancer and 22-30% in colorectal cancer encode for non-V600 mutants. As next generation sequencing becomes increasingly used in clinical practice, oncologists are frequently identifying non-V600 BRAF mutations in their patient's tumors, but are uncertain of viable therapeutic options that could be employed for optimal treatment. From recent studies, a new classification system is emerging for BRAF mutations based on biochemical and signaling mechanisms associated with these mutants. Class I BRAF mutations affect amino acid V600 and signal as RAS-independent active monomers, class II mutations function as RAS-independent activated dimers, and class III mutations are kinase impaired but increase signaling through the MAPK pathway due to enhanced RAS binding and subsequent CRAF activation. These distinct classes of BRAF mutations predict response to targeted therapies and have important implications for future drug development. Herein, we discuss pre-clinical and clinical findings that may lead to improved treatments for all classes of BRAF mutant cancers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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