Preexisting MEK1P124 mutations diminish response to BRAF inhibitors in metastatic melanoma patients

Clin Cancer Res. 2015 Jan 1;21(1):98-105. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-14-0759. Epub 2014 Nov 4.


Background: MEK1 mutations in melanoma can confer resistance to BRAF inhibitors, although preexisting MEK1(P124) mutations do not preclude clinical responses. We sought to determine whether recurrent, preexisting MEK1(P124) mutations affected clinical outcome in BRAF inhibitor-treated patients with melanoma.

Methods: Data from four published datasets were analyzed to determine whether preexisting MEK1(P124) mutations affect radiologic response or progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with BRAF(V600)-mutant metastatic melanoma treated with vemurafenib or dabrafenib. The effects of MEK1(P124) mutations on MAPK pathway activity and response to BRAF inhibition were also investigated in a series of cell models.

Results: In a pooled analysis of 123 patients, the presence of a pretreatment MEK1(P124) mutation (N = 12, 10%) was associated with a poorer RECIST response (33% vs. 72% in MEK1(P124Q/S) vs. MEK1(P124) wild-type, P = 0.018), and a shorter PFS (median 3.1 vs. 4.8 months, P = 0.004). Furthermore, MEK1(P124Q/S) mutations were shown to have independent kinase activity and introduction of these mutations into a BRAF-mutant melanoma cell line diminished inhibition of ERK phosphorylation by dabrafenib and enhanced clonogenic survival in the presence of dabrafenib compared with cells ectopically expressing wild-type MEK1. Consistent with these data, two BRAF-mutant cell lines with endogenous MEK1(P124) mutations showed intermediate sensitivity to dabrafenib, but were highly sensitive to downstream inhibition of MEK or ERK.

Conclusion: Taken together, our data indicate that preexisting MEK1(P124) mutations are associated with a reduced response to BRAF inhibitor therapy and identify a subset of patients with BRAF-mutant melanoma likely to benefit from combination therapies involving MEK or ERK inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles / administration & dosage
  • Indoles / administration & dosage
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 1 / genetics*
  • Melanoma / drug therapy
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Mutation
  • Oximes / administration & dosage
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics*
  • Sulfonamides / administration & dosage
  • Vemurafenib


  • Imidazoles
  • Indoles
  • Oximes
  • Sulfonamides
  • Vemurafenib
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • MAP Kinase Kinase 1
  • MAP2K1 protein, human
  • dabrafenib