Allosteric and ATP-Competitive MEK-Inhibition in a Novel Spitzoid Melanoma Model with a RAF- and Phosphorylation-Independent Mutation

Spitzoid melanoma is a rare malignancy with histological characteristics similar to Spitz nevus. It has a diverse genetic background and in adults, a similarly grim clinical outcome as conventional malignant melanoma. We established a spitzoid melanoma cell line (PF130) from the pleural effusion sample of a 37-year-old male patient. We found that the cell line carries a rare MEK1 mutation (pGlu102_Lys104delinsGln) that belongs to the RAF- and phosphorylation-independent subgroup of MEK1 alternations supposedly insensitive to allosteric MEK inhibitors. The in vivo tumorigenicity was tested in three different models by injecting the cells subcutaneously, intravenously or into the thoracic cavity of SCID mice. In the intrapleural model, macroscopic tumors formed in the chest cavity after two months, while subcutaneously and intravenously delivered cells showed limited growth. In vitro, trametinib-but not selumentinib-and the ATP-competitive MEK inhibitor MAP855 strongly decreased the viability of the cells and induced cell death. In vivo, trametinib but not MAP855 significantly reduced tumor growth in the intrapleural model. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first patient-derived melanoma model with RAF- and phosphorylation-independent MEK mutation and we demonstrated its sensitivity to trametinib.

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