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PloS one

Mitogen-Inducible Gene-6 Mediates Feedback Inhibition from Mutated BRAF towards the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor and Thereby Limits Malignant Transformation.


PMID 26065894

Abstract

BRAF functions in the RAS-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling cascade. Activation of this pathway is necessary to mediate the transforming potential of oncogenic BRAF, however, it may also cause a negative feedback that inhibits the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Mitogen-inducible gene-6 (MIG-6) is a potent inhibitor of the EGFR and has been demonstrated to function as a tumor suppressor. As MIG-6 can be induced via RAS-ERK signaling, we investigated its potential involvement in this negative regulatory loop. Focus formation assays were performed and demonstrated that MIG-6 significantly reduces malignant transformation induced by oncogenic BRAF. Although this genetic interaction was mirrored by a physical interaction between MIG-6 and BRAF, we did not observe a direct regulation of BRAF kinase activity by MIG-6. Interestingly, a selective chemical EGFR inhibitor suppressed transformation to a similar degree as MIG-6, whereas combining these approaches had no synergistic effect. By analyzing a range of BRAF mutated and wildtype cell line models, we could show that BRAF V600E causes a strong upregulation of MIG-6, which was mediated at the transcriptional level via the RAS-ERK pathway and resulted in downregulation of EGFR activation. This feedback loop is operational in tumors, as shown by the analysis of almost 400 patients with papillary thyroid cancer (PTC). Presence of BRAF V600E correlated with increased MIG-6 expression on the one hand, and with inactivation of the EGFR and of PI3K/AKT signaling on the other hand. Importantly, we also observed a more aggressive disease phenotype when BRAF V600E coexisted with low MIG-6 expression. Finally, analysis of methylation data was performed and revealed that higher methylation of MIG-6 correlated to its decreased expression. Taken together, we demonstrate that MIG-6 efficiently reduces cellular transformation driven by oncogenic BRAF by orchestrating a negative feedback circuit directed towards the EGFR.