Loss of Spry1 reduces growth of BRAFV600-mutant cutaneous melanoma and improves response to targeted therapy: Cell Death and Disease

B. Montico, F. Colizzi, G. Giurato, A. Rizzo, A. Salvati, L. Baboci, D. Benedetti, E. Pivetta, A. Covre, Michele Dal Bo, A. Weisz, A. Steffan, M. Maio, L. Sigalotti, E. Fratta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway activation is a central step in BRAFV600-mutant cutaneous melanoma (CM) pathogenesis. In the last years, Spry1 has been frequently described as an upstream regulator of MAPK signaling pathway. However, its specific role in BRAFV600-mutant CM is still poorly defined. Here, we report that Spry1 knockdown (Spry1KO) in three BRAFV600-mutant CM cell lines markedly induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, repressed cell proliferation in vitro, and impaired tumor growth in vivo. Furthermore, our findings indicated that Spry1KO reduced the expression of several markers of epithelial–mesenchymal transition, such as MMP-2 both in vitro and in vivo. These effects were associated with a sustained and deleterious phosphorylation of ERK1/2. In addition, p38 activation along with an increase in basal ROS levels were found in Spry1KO clones compared to parental CM cell lines, suggesting that BRAFV600-mutant CM may restrain the activity of Spry1 to avoid oncogenic stress and to enable tumor growth. Consistent with this hypothesis, treatment with the BRAF inhibitor (BRAFi) vemurafenib down-regulated Spry1 levels in parental CM cell lines, indicating that Spry1 expression is sustained by the MAPK/ERK signaling pathway in a positive feedback loop that safeguards cells from the potentially toxic effects of ERK1/2 hyperactivation. Disruption of this feedback loop rendered Spry1KO cells more susceptible to apoptosis and markedly improved response to BRAFi both in vitro and in vivo, as a consequence of the detrimental effect of ERK1/2 hyperactivation observed upon Spry1 abrogation. Therefore, targeting Spry1 might offer a treatment strategy for BRAFV600-mutant CM by inducing the toxic effects of ERK-mediated signaling. © 2020, The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392
Number of pages15
JournalCell Death Dis.
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • B Raf kinase
  • mitogen activated protein kinase
  • sprouty protein
  • spry1 protein
  • unclassified drug
  • vemurafenib
  • apoptosis
  • Article
  • cancer growth
  • cell cycle arrest
  • cell proliferation
  • CRISPR-CAS9 system
  • cutaneous melanoma
  • down regulation
  • gene knockout
  • human
  • human cell
  • human tissue
  • in vitro study
  • in vivo study
  • MAPK signaling
  • molecularly targeted therapy
  • oxidative stress
  • positive feedback
  • priority journal
  • protein expression
  • protein phosphorylation
  • treatment response


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