Mutational activation of BRAF is the earliest and most common genetic alteration in human melanoma. To build a model of human melanoma, we generated mice with conditional melanocyte-specific expression of BRafV600E. Upon induction of BRafV600E expression, mice developed benign melanocytic hyperplasias that failed to progress to melanoma over 15–20 months. By contrast, expression of BRafV600E combined with Pten tumor suppressor gene silencing elicited development of melanoma with 100% penetrance, short latency and with metastases observed in lymph nodes and lungs. Melanoma was prevented by inhibitors of mTorc1 (rapamycin) or MEK1/2 (PD325901) but, upon cessation of drug administration, mice developed melanoma, indicating the presence of long-lived melanoma-initiating cells in this system. Notably, combined treatment with rapamycin and PD325901 led to shrinkage of established melanomas. These mice, engineered with a common genetic profile to human melanoma, provide a system to study melanoma's cardinal feature of metastasis and for preclinical evaluation of agents designed to prevent or treat metastatic disease.
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We thank the members of the McMahon and Bosenberg laboratories as well as B. Bastian, L. Chin, E. Filenova, B. Hann, M. Herlyn, L. Johnson, G. Merlino, P. P. Pandolfi, V. Hearing, M. Held, G. Kay and D. Matzen for the provision of mouse strains, reagents, advice and support. M.M. thanks A. Ricart and J. Sebolt-Leopold (Pfizer) for provision of PD325901 and acknowledges the support of the University of California San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center Mouse Pathology and Pre-Clinical Therapeutics cores. R.A.D. is supported as an American Cancer Society Research Professor. This work was supported by grants from the Melanoma Research Foundation, U.C. Discovery Award and from the US National Institutes of Health (CA 108972 to M.M., CA 84313 to R.A.D. and CA 89124 and CA 112054 to M.B., respectively).
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Dankort, D., Curley, D., Cartlidge, R. et al. BrafV600E cooperates with Pten loss to induce metastatic melanoma. Nat Genet 41, 544–552 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/ng.356
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