Dysfunctional Oxidative Phosphorylation Makes Malignant Melanoma Cells Addicted to Glycolysis Driven by the (V600E)BRAF Oncogene

Oncotarget. 2013 Apr;4(4):584-99. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.965.


Oncogene addiction describes how cancer cells exhibit dependence on single oncogenes to escape apoptosis and senescence. While oncogene addiction constitutes the basis for new cancer treatment strategies targeting individual kinases and pathways activated by oncogenic mutations, the biochemical basis for this addiction is largely unknown. Here we provide evidence for a metabolic rationale behind the addiction to (V600E)BRAF in two malignant melanoma cell lines. Both cell lines display a striking addiction to glycolysis due to underlying dysfunction of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). Notably, even minor reductions in glycolytic activity lead to increased OXPHOS activity (reversed Warburg effect), however the mitochondria are unable to sustain ATP production. We show that (V600E)BRAF upholds the activity of glycolysis and therefore the addiction to glycolysis de facto becomes an addiction to (V600E)BRAF. Finally, the senescence response associated with inhibition of (V600E)BRAF is rescued by overexpression of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), providing direct evidence that oncogene addiction rests on a metabolic foundation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Glycolysis / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Melanoma / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Oncogenes
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Transfection


  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf