T-Type Calcium Channels as Potential Therapeutic Targets in Vemurafenib-Resistant BRAFV600E Melanoma

J Invest Dermatol. 2020 Jun;140(6):1253-1265. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2019.11.014. Epub 2019 Dec 23.


Melanoma is a malignant neoplasia that is highly resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy and is associated with poor prognosis in advanced stage. Targeting melanoma that harbors the common BRAFV600E mutation with kinase inhibitors, such as vemurafenib, reduces tumor burden, but these tumors frequently acquire resistance to these drugs. We previously proposed that T-type calcium channel (TTCC) expression may serve as a biomarker for melanoma progression and prognosis, and we showed that TTCC blockers reduce migration and invasion rates because of autophagy blockade only in BRAFV600E-mutant melanoma cells. Here, we demonstrated that high expression of the TTCC Cav3.1 isoform is related to autophagic status in vemurafenib-resistant BRAFV600E-mutant melanoma cells and human biopsies, and in silico analysis revealed an enrichment of Cav3.1 expression in post-treatment melanomas. We also demonstrated that the TTCC blocker mibefradil induces apoptosis and impairs migration and invasion via inhibition of autophagy in resistant melanoma cells and mouse xenograft models. Moreover, we identified an association between PTEN status and Cav3.1 expression in these cells as a marker of sensitivity to combination therapy in resistant cells. Together, our results suggest that TTCC blockers offer a potential targeted therapy in resistant BRAFV600E-mutant melanoma and a therapeutic strategy to reduce progression toward BRAF inhibitor resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / drug therapy*
  • Melanoma / genetics
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Mice
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Vemurafenib / pharmacology
  • Vemurafenib / therapeutic use
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • CACNA1G protein, human
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Vemurafenib
  • BRAF protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf