Targeting the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway overcomes the stimulating effect of dabrafenib on the invasive behavior of melanoma cells with acquired resistance to the BRAF inhibitor

Simona Caporali, Ester Alvino, Pedro Miguel Lacal, Lauretta Levati, Giorgio Giurato, Domenico Memoli, Elisabetta Caprini, Gian Carlo Antonini Cappellini, Stefania D'Atri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BRAF inhibitors (BRAFi) have proven clinical benefits in patients with BRAF-mutant melanoma. However acquired resistance eventually arises. The effects of BRAFi on melanoma cell proliferation and survival have been extensively studied, and several mechanisms involved in acquired resistance to the growth suppressive activity of these drugs have been identified. Much less is known about the impact of BRAFi, and in particular of dabrafenib, on the invasive potential of melanoma cells. In the present study, the BRAF-mutant human melanoma cell line A375 and its dabrafenib-resistant subline A375R were analyzed for invasive capacity, expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR)-2 and secretion of VEGF-A and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9, under basal conditions or in response to dabrafenib. The consequences of inhibiting the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway on A375R cell responses to dabrafenib were also evaluated. We found that A375R cells were more invasive and secreted higher levels of VEGF-A and MMP-9 as compared with A375 cells. Dabrafenib reduced invasiveness, VEGFR-2 expression and VEGF-A secretion in A375 cells, whereas it increased invasiveness, VEGF-A and MMP-9 release in A375R cells. In these latter cells, the stimulating effects of dabrafenib on the invasive capacity were markedly impaired by the anti-VEGFA antibody bevacizumab, or by AKT1 silencing. A375R cells were not cross-resistant to the PI3K/mTOR inhibitor GSK2126458A. Moreover, this inhibitor given in combination with dabrafenib efficiently counteracted the stimulating effects of the BRAFi on invasiveness and VEGF-A and MMP-9 secretion. Our data demonstrate that melanoma cells with acquired resistance to dabrafenib possess a more invasive phenotype which is further stimulated by exposure to the drug. Substantial evidence indicates that continuing BRAFi therapy beyond progression produces a clinical benefit. Our results suggest that after the development of resistance, a regimen combining BRAFi with bevacizumab or with inhibitors of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway might be more effective than BRAFi monotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1164-1174
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Bevacizumab
  • BRAF
  • Dabrafenib
  • Drug resistance
  • GSK2126458A
  • Invasion
  • Melanoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Targeting the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway overcomes the stimulating effect of dabrafenib on the invasive behavior of melanoma cells with acquired resistance to the BRAF inhibitor'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this