Dependence on Glycolysis Sensitizes BRAF-mutated Melanomas for Increased Response to Targeted BRAF Inhibition

Keisha N. Hardeman, Chengwei Peng, Bishal B. Paudel, Christian T. Meyer, Thong Luong, Darren R. Tyson, Jamey D. Young, Vito Quaranta, Joshua P. Fessel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Dysregulated metabolism can broadly affect therapy resistance by influencing compensatory signaling and expanding proliferation. Given many BRAF-mutated melanoma patients experience disease progression with targeted BRAF inhibitors, we hypothesized therapeutic response is related to tumor metabolic phenotype, and that altering tumor metabolism could change therapeutic outcome. We demonstrated the proliferative kinetics of BRAF-mutated melanoma cells treated with the BRAF inhibitor PLX4720 fall along a spectrum of sensitivity, providing a model system to study the interplay of metabolism and drug sensitivity. We discovered an inverse relationship between glucose availability and sensitivity to BRAF inhibition through characterization of metabolic phenotypes using nearly a dozen metabolic parameters in Principle Component Analysis. Subsequently, we generated rho0 variants that lacked functional mitochondrial respiration and increased glycolytic metabolism. The rho0 cell lines exhibited increased sensitivity to PLX4720 compared to the respiration-competent parental lines. Finally, we utilized the FDA-approved antiretroviral drug zalcitabine to suppress mitochondrial respiration and to force glycolysis in our cell line panel, resulting in increased PLX4720 sensitivity via shifts in EC50 and Hill slope metrics. Our data suggest that forcing tumor glycolysis in melanoma using zalcitabine or other similar approaches may be an adjunct to increase the efficacy of targeted BRAF therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number42604
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Feb 16 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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