Targeting c-Met in melanoma: Mechanism of resistance and efficacy of novel combinatorial inhibitor therapy

Deven Etnyre, Amanda L. Stone, Jason T. Fong, Ryan J. Jacobs, Srijayaprakash B. Uppada, Gregory M. Botting, Supriya Rajanna, David N. Moravec, Manohar R. Shambannagari, Zachary Crees, Jennifer Girard, Ceyda Bertram, Neelu Puri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Numerous tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) targeting c-Met are currently in clinical trials for several cancers. Their efficacy is limited due to the development of resistance. The present study aims to elucidate this mechanism of c-Met TKI resistance by investigating key mTOR and Wnt signaling proteins in melanoma cell lines resistant to SU11274, a c-Met TKI. Xenografts from RU melanoma cells treated with c-Met TKIs SU11274 and JNJ38877605 showed a 7- and 6-fold reduction in tumor size, respectively. Resistant cells displayed upregulation of phosphorylated c-Met, mTOR, p70S6Kinase, 4E-BP1, ERK, LRP6, and active β-catenin. In addition, GATA-6, a Wnt signaling regulator, was upregulated, and Axin, a negative regulator of the Wnt pathway, was downregulated in resistant cells. Modulation of these mTOR and Wnt pathway proteins was also prevented by combination treatment with SU11274, everolimus, an mTOR inhibitor, and XAV939, a Wnt inhibitor. Treatment with everolimus, resulted in 56% growth inhibition, and a triple combination of SU11274, everolimus and XAV939, resulted in 95% growth inhibition in RU cells. The V600E BRAF mutation was found to be positive only in MU cells. Combination treatment with a c-Met TKI and a BRAF inhibitor displayed a synergistic effect in reducing MU cell viability. These studies indicate activation of mTOR and Wnt signaling pathways in c-Met TKI resistant melanoma cells and suggest that concurrent targeting of c-Met, mTOR, and Wnt pathways and BRAF may improve efficacy over traditional TKI monotherapy in melanoma patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1129-1141
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Biology and Therapy
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • BRAF
  • Melanoma
  • Resistance
  • SU11274
  • Wnt
  • c-Met
  • mTOR


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