ERK hyperactivation serves as a unified mechanism of escape in intrinsic and acquired CDK4/6 inhibitor resistance in acral lentiginous melanoma

Kasturee Jagirdar, Marie E. Portuallo, Meihan Wei, Matthew Wilhide, Jeremy A. Bravo Narula, Bailey M. Robertson, Gretchen M. Alicea, Crystal Aguh, Min Xiao, Tetiana Godok, Dylan Fingerman, Gregory Schuyler Brown, Meenhard Herlyn, Vissy M. Elad, Xinyu Guo, Eneda Toska, Daniel J. Zabransky, Bradley Wubbenhorst, Katherine L. Nathanson, Shawn KwatraYogesh Goyal, Hongkai Ji, Qin Liu, Vito W. Rebecca*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Patients with metastatic acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM) suffer worse outcomes relative to patients with other forms of cutaneous melanoma (CM), and do not benefit as well to approved melanoma therapies. Identification of cyclin-dependent kinase 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) pathway gene alterations in >60% of ALMs has led to clinical trials of the CDK4/6 inhibitor (CDK4i/6i) palbociclib for ALM; however, median progression free survival with CDK4i/6i treatment was only 2.2 months, suggesting existence of resistance mechanisms. Therapy resistance in ALM remains poorly understood; here we report hyperactivation of MAPK signaling and elevated cyclin D1 expression serve as a mechanism of intrinsic early/adaptive CDK4i/6i resistance. ALM cells that have acquired CDK4i/6i resistance following chronic treatment exposure also exhibit hyperactivation of the MAPK pathway. MEK and/or ERK inhibition increases CDK4i/6i efficacy against therapy naïve and CDK4i/6i-resistant AM cells in xenograft and patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models and promotes a defective DNA repair, cell cycle arrested and apoptotic program. Notably, gene alterations poorly correlate with protein expression of cell cycle proteins in ALM or efficacy of CDK4i/6i, urging additional strategies when stratifying patients for CDK4i/6i trial inclusion. Concurrent targeting of the MAPK pathway and CDK4/6 represents a new approach for patients with metastatic ALM to improve outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-405
Number of pages11
JournalOncogene
Volume43
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research

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