CRAF gene fusions in pediatric low-grade gliomas define a distinct drug response based on dimerization profiles

P. Jain, T. M. Fierst, H. J. Han, T. E. Smith, A. Vakil, P. B. Storm, A. C. Resnick*, Angela Jae Waanders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pediatric low-grade gliomas (PLGGs) are commonly associated with BRAF gene fusions that aberrantly activate the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway. This has led to PLGG clinical trials utilizing RAF- and MAPK pathway-targeted therapeutics. Whole-genome profiling of PLGGs has also identified rare gene fusions involving another RAF isoform, CRAF/RAF1, in PLGGs and cancers occuring in adults. Whereas BRAF fusions primarily dysregulate MAPK signaling, the CRAF fusions QKI-RAF1 and SRGAP3-RAF1 aberrantly activate both the MAPK and phosphoinositide-3 kinase/mammalian target of rapamycin (PI3K/mTOR) signaling pathways. Although ATP-competitive, first-generation RAF inhibitors (vemurafenib/PLX4720, RAFi) cause paradoxical activation of the MAPK pathway in BRAF-fusion tumors, inhibition can be achieved with â € paradox breaker' RAFi, such as PLX8394. Here we report that, unlike BRAF fusions, CRAF fusions are unresponsive to both generations of RAFi, vemurafenib and PLX8394, highlighting a distinct responsiveness of CRAF fusions to clinically relevant RAFi. Whereas PLX8394 decreased BRAF-fusion dimerization, CRAF-fusion dimerization is unaffected primarily because of robust protein-protein interactions mediated by the N-terminal non-kinase fusion partner, such as QKI. The pan-RAF dimer inhibitor, LY3009120, could suppress CRAF-fusion oncogenicity by inhibiting dimer-mediated signaling. In addition, as CRAF fusions activate both the MAPK and PI3K/mTOR signaling pathways, we identify combinatorial inhibition of the MAPK/mTOR pathway as a potential therapeutic strategy for CRAF-fusion-driven tumors. Overall, we define a mechanistic distinction between PLGG-associated BRAF- and CRAF/RAF1 fusions in response to RAFi, highlighting the importance of molecularly classifying PLGG patients for targeted therapy. Furthermore, our study uncovers an important contribution of the non-kinase fusion partner to oncogenesis and potential therapeutic strategies against PLGG-associated CRAF fusions and possibly pan-cancer CRAF fusions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6348-6358
Number of pages11
JournalOncogene
Volume36
Issue number45
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 9 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research

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