Dual inhibition of (V600E)BRAF and the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway cooperates to induce apoptosis in melanoma cells through a MEK-independent mechanism

Cancer Lett. 2012 Jan 28;314(2):244-55. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2011.09.037. Epub 2011 Oct 8.


BRAF is a main oncogene in human melanomas. Here, we show that BRAF depletion by siRNA or inhibition of its activity by treatment with RAF inhibitor Sorafenib induces apoptosis in NPA melanoma cells expressing oncogenic (V600E)BRAF. This effect is mediated through a MEK/ERK-independent mechanism, since treatment with the MEK inhibitor U0126 does not exert any effect. Moreover, we demonstrate that inhibition of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR cascade alone does not increase apoptosis in these cells. However, the blockage of this pathway in cells lacking either BRAF expression or activity cooperates to induce higher levels of apoptosis than those achieved by inhibition of BRAF alone. Consistently, we demonstrate that abrogation of BRAF expression increases AKT and mTOR phosphorylation, suggesting the existence of a compensatory pro-survival mechanism after BRAF depletion. Together, our data provide a rationale for dual targeting of BRAF and PI3K/AKT/mTOR signalling to effectively control melanoma disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / physiology
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / drug therapy*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / physiology*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / physiology
  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / physiology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / physiology


  • Phosphoinositide-3 Kinase Inhibitors
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases