Molecular and cellular biochemistry

The siRNA-mediated downregulation of N-Ras sensitizes human melanoma cells to apoptosis induced by selective BRAF inhibitors.

PMID 24671490


The clinical benefit of selective BRAF inhibitor therapies is limited by the emergence of drug resistance. Here, we investigated the molecular basis underlying the acquired resistance to a BRAF inhibitor by comparing the signaling pathways in the parental A375P cells and the resistant subline (A375P/Mdr). We demonstrate that MAPK re-activation does not contribute to the mechanism of resistance to UAI-201 of A375P/Mdr cells. The relative quantitative analysis using the 2(-ΔΔCt) method revealed that the BRAF inhibitor resistance observed in A375P/Mdr cells is not mediated through the overexpression of MDR proteins. In particular, we found that the expression of N-Ras was upregulated in BRAF inhibitor-resistant A375P/Mdr cells compared with A375P cells. In fact, siRNA-mediated N-Ras knockdown partially conferred UAI-201 sensitivity to A375P/Mdr cells, implying that N-Ras upregulation confers acquired resistance to BRAF inhibition. Notably, the flow cytometric analysis of the N-Ras-knockdown A375P/Mdr cells revealed that UAI-201 causes a significant accumulation of cells in the G 0/G 1 phase with a concomitant decrease in the number of cells in the S and G 2/M phases. However, platelet-derived growth factor receptor β (PDGFRβ) knockdown failed to sensitize A375P/Mdr cells to growth suppression by UAI-201, although a remarkable increase in PDGFRβ was observed in the A375P cells after UAI-201 treatment. Taken together, our results suggest that N-Ras is worth targeting to improve the therapeutic outcome of melanomas with acquired resistance to BRAF inhibitors.