Resistance to the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib poses a significant problem for the treatment of BRAFV600E-positive melanomas. It is therefore critical to prospectively identify all vemurafenib resistance mechanisms prior to their emergence in the clinic. The vemurafenib resistance mechanisms described to date do not result from secondary mutations within BRAFV600E. To search for possible mutations within BRAFV600E that can confer drug resistance, we developed a systematic experimental approach involving targeted saturation mutagenesis, selection of drug-resistant variants, and deep sequencing. We identified a single nucleotide substitution (T1514A, encoding L505H) that greatly increased drug resistance in cultured cells and mouse xenografts. The kinase activity of BRAFV600E/L505H was higher than that of BRAFV600E, resulting in cross-resistance to a MEK inhibitor. However, BRAFV600E/L505H was less resistant to several other BRAF inhibitors whose binding sites were further from L505 than that of PLX4720. Our results identify a novel vemurafenib-resistant mutant and provide insights into the treatment for melanomas bearing this mutation.
Keywords: BRAFV600E; deep sequencing; drug resistance; saturation mutagenesis; vemurafenib.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.