BRAF targeting sensitizes resistant melanoma to cytotoxic T cells

Cigdem Atay, Taekyoung Kwak, Sergio Lavilla-Alonso, Laxminarasimha Donthireddy, Allison Richards, Valerie Moberg, Shari Pilon-Thomas, Michael Schell, Jane L. Messina, Vito W. Rebecca, Min Xiao, Jiufeng Tan, Gao Zhang, Jeffrey S. Weber, Meenhard Herlyn, Amod A. Sarnaik, Dmitry I. Gabrilovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: BRAF and MEK inhibitors (BRAFi and MEKi) are actively used for the treatment of metastatic melanoma in patients with BRAFV600E mutation in their tumors. However, the development of resistance to BRAFi and MEKi remains a difficult clinical challenge with limited therapeutic options available to these patients. In this study, we investigated the mechanism and potential therapeutic utility of combination BRAFi and adoptive T-cell therapy (ACT) in melanoma resistant to BRAFi. Experimental Design: Investigations were performed in vitro and in vivo with various human melanoma cell lines sensitive and resistant to BRAFi as well as patient-derived xenografts (PDX) derived from patients. In addition, samples were evaluated from patients on a clinical trial of BRAFi in combination with ACT. Results: Herein we report that in human melanoma cell lines, senstitive and resistant to BRAFi and in PDX from patients who progressed on BRAFi and MEKi therapy, BRAFi caused transient upregulation of mannose-6-phosphate receptor (M6PR). This sensitized tumor cells to CTLs via uptake of granzyme B, a main component of the cytotoxic activity of CTLs. Treatment of mice bearing resistant tumors with BRAFi enhanced the antitumor effect of patients' TILs. A pilot clinical trial of 16 patients with metastatic melanoma who were treated with the BRAFi vemurafenib followed by therapy with TILs demonstrated a significant increase of M6PR expression on tumors during vemurafenib treatment. Conclusions: BRAF-targeted therapy sensitized resistant melanoma cells to CTLs, which opens new therapeutic opportunities for the treatment of patients with BRAF-resistant disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2783-2794
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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