Astrocytomas are the most common type of brain tumors in children. Activated BRAF protein kinase mutations are characteristic of pediatric astrocytomas with KIAA1549-BRAF fusion genes typifying low-grade astrocytomas and V600EBRAF alterations characterizing distinct or higher-grade tumors. Recently, BRAF-targeted therapies, such as vemurafenib, have shown great promise in treating V600E-dependent melanomas. LikeV600E BRAF, BRAF fusion kinases activate MAPK signaling and are sufficient for malignant transformation; however, here we characterized the distinct mechanisms of action of KIAA1549-BRAF and its differential responsiveness to PLX4720, a first-generation BRAF inhibitor and research analog of vemurafenib. We found that in cells expressing KIAA1549-BRAF, the fusion kinase functions as a homodimer that is resistant to PLX4720 and accordingly is associated with CRAF-independent paradoxical activation of MAPK signaling. Mutagenesis studies demonstrated that KIAA1549-BRAF fusion-mediated signaling is diminished with disruption of the BRAF kinase dimer interface. In addition, the KIAA1549-BRAF fusion displays increased binding affinity to kinase suppressor of RAS (KSR), an RAF relative recently demonstrated to facilitate MEK phosphorylation by BRAF. Despite its resistance to PLX4720, the KIAA1549-BRAF fusion is responsive to a second-generation selective BRAF inhibitor that, unlike vemurafenib, does not induce activation of wild-type BRAF. Our data support the development of targeted treatment paradigms for BRAF-altered pediatric astrocytomas and also demonstrate that therapies must be tailored to the specific mutational context and distinct mechanisms of action of the mutant kinase.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Apr 9 2013|
- Targeted therapeutics
ASJC Scopus subject areas