Targeting mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) in solid tumors

Target Oncol. 2009 Dec;4(4):267-73. doi: 10.1007/s11523-009-0125-x. Epub 2009 Nov 10.


The Raf-mitogen activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) protein kinase signaling cascade is an important intracellular pathway whose activation influences many fundamental cellular processes and whose aberrancy is associated with cancer cell growth. In addition to activation from within by, for example, Raf mutations, this pathway is frequently activated from above by mutated Ras or epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Given the near ubiquity of derangements affecting at least part of this network in cancer, there is a strong and clear rationale for interrupting it. In recent times, in colorectal and lung cancer, Ras and EGFR mutant status have been shown to be critically important and mutually exclusive predictors of response to anti-EGFR therapies. These developments underline the importance of targeting downstream effectors, and MEK inhibition has been the subject of intense scientific and clinical research for some time now. This article reviews the current status of MEK inhibitors with regard to their clinical development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / physiology*
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / physiology


  • NF-kappa B
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases