Research Papers:

Long-term vemurafenib treatment drives inhibitor resistance through a spontaneous KRAS G12D mutation in a BRAF V600E papillary thyroid carcinoma model

Brian P. Danysh, Erin Y. Rieger, Deepankar K. Sinha, Caitlin V. Evers, Gilbert J. Cote, Maria E. Cabanillas and Marie-Claude Hofmann _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:30907-30923. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.9023

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Brian P. Danysh1, Erin Y. Rieger1, Deepankar K. Sinha1, Caitlin V. Evers2, Gilbert J. Cote1, Maria E. Cabanillas1, Marie-Claude Hofmann1

1Department of Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

2Diagnostic Genetics Program, School of Health Professions, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

Correspondence to:

Marie-Claude Hofmann, email: [email protected]

Keywords: BRAF V600E, kinase inhibitor, resistance, KRAS G12D, papillary thyroid cancer (PTC)

Received: December 03, 2015     Accepted: March 31, 2016     Published: April 26, 2016


The BRAF V600E mutation is commonly observed in papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) and predominantly activates the MAPK pathway. Presence of BRAF V600E predicts increasing risk of recurrence and higher mortality rate, and treatment options for such patients are limited. Vemurafenib, a BRAF V600E inhibitor, is initially effective, but cells inevitably develop alternative mechanisms of pathway activation. Mechanisms of primary resistance have been described in short-term cultures of PTC cells; however, mechanisms of acquired resistance have not. In the present study, we investigated possible adaptive mechanisms of BRAF V600E inhibitor resistance in KTC1 thyroid cancer cells following long-term vemurafenib exposure. We found that a subpopulation of KTC1 cells acquired resistance to vemurafenib following 5 months of treatment with the inhibitor. Resistance coincided with the spontaneous acquisition of a KRAS G12D activating mutation. Increases in activated AKT, ERK1/2, and EGFR were observed in these cells. In addition, the resistant cells were less sensitive to combinations of vemurafenib and MEK1 inhibitor or AKT inhibitor. These results support the KRAS G12D mutation as a genetic mechanism of spontaneously acquired secondary BRAF inhibitor resistance in BRAF V600E thyroid cancer cells.

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