Development of a yeast-based system to identify new hBRAFV600E functional interactors

Oncogene. 2019 Feb;38(8):1355-1366. doi: 10.1038/s41388-018-0496-5. Epub 2018 Sep 20.


BRAFV600E is a mutant Ser-Thr protein kinase that plays a crucial role in many types of cancer, including melanoma. Despite several aspects of BRAFV600E biology have been already elucidated, the proteins that regulate its expression and activity remain largely unknown, hampering our capacity to control its unrestrained effects. Here, we propose yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system that can be used to achieve a better understanding of the regulation of human BRAFV600E.By showing that in osmotic stress conditions hBRAFV600E can rescue the growth of strains carrying a double or triple deletion in MAPKKK belonging to the HOG pathway, we demonstrate that this oncogenic kinase is active in yeast even if it does not have an ortholog. Moreover, we report that, in the yeast ptp3∆ptc1∆ strain that is deleted in the genes encoding for two phosphatases responsible for Hog1 de-phoshorylation, hBRAFV600E mimics the toxicity observed in the presence of constitutive Hog1 activation. Finally, we exploit such a toxicity to perform a functional screening of a human cDNA library, looking for cDNAs able to rescue yeast growth. In this way, we identify SMIM10, a mitochondrial protein that in melanoma cells selectively downregulates BRAFV600E RNA and protein levels, by acting indirectly at the post-transcriptional level. Upon SMIM10 overexpression, BRAFV600E melanoma cells show disrupted mitochondrial structure/function and undergo senescence. They also show decreased ability to proliferate and form colonies, as well as increased sensitivity to the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib. Interestingly, the analysis of TCGA melanoma samples indicates that patients with higher SMIM10 levels have a better prognosis. Therefore, these data suggest that SMIM10 exerts an oncosuppressive role in melanoma cells.Taken together, our results unveil the potential of S. cerevisiae to study hBRAFV600E, to populate the network of its functional interactors and, in doing so, to uncover new cancer-associated genes with therapeutic potential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Gene Library
  • Humans
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / genetics*
  • Melanoma / drug therapy
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics*


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • SMIM10 protein, human
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • HOG1 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases