Loss of HAT1 expression confers BRAFV600E inhibitor resistance to melanoma cells by activating MAPK signaling via IGF1R

Oncogenesis. 2020 May 5;9(5):44. doi: 10.1038/s41389-020-0228-x.


BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) have been approved for the clinical treatment of BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma. Although initial responses to BRAFi are generally favorable, acquired BRAFi resistance emerges rapidly, resulting in treatment failure. Only some of the underlying mechanisms responsible for BRAFi resistance are currently understood. Here, we showed that the genetic inhibition of histone acetyltransferase 1 (HAT1) in BRAF-mutant melanoma cells resulted in BRAFi resistance. Using quantitative immunofluorescence analysis of patient sample pairs, consisting of pre-treatment along with matched progressed BRAFi + MEKi-treated melanoma samples, HAT1 downregulation was observed in 7/11 progressed samples (~63%) in comparison with pre-treated samples. Employing NanoString-based nCounter PanCancer Pathway Panel-based gene expression analysis, we identified increased MAPK, Ras, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β, and Wnt pathway activation in HAT1 expression inhibited cells. We further found that MAPK pathway activation following the loss of HAT1 expression was partially driven by increased insulin growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) signaling. We showed that both MAPK and IGF1R pathway inhibition, using the ERK inhibitor SCH772984 and the IGF1R inhibitor BMS-754807, respectively, restored BRAFi sensitivity in melanoma cells lacking HAT1. Collectively, we show that the loss of HAT1 expression confers acquired BRAFi resistance by activating the MAPK signaling pathway via IGF1R.