Metformin Accelerates the Growth of BRAF(V600E)-Driven Melanoma by Upregulating VEGF-A
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The antidiabetic drug metformin has antitumor activity in a variety of cancers because it blocks cell growth by inhibiting TORC1. Here, we show that melanoma cells that are driven by oncogenic BRAF are resistant to the growth-inhibitory effects of metformin because RSK sustains TORC1 activity even when AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is activated. We further show that AMPK targets the dual-specificity protein phosphatase DUSP6 for degradation and this increases ERK activity, which then upregulates the VEGF-A protein. Critically, this drives angiogenesis and accelerates the growth of BRAF-driven tumors in mice. Unexpectedly, however, when VEGF signaling is inhibited, instead of accelerating tumor growth, metformin inhibits tumor growth. Thus, we show that BRAF-driven melanoma cells are resistant to the antigrowth effects of AMPK and that AMPK mediates cell-autonomous and cell- nonautonomous effects that accelerate the growth of these cells in vivo. SIGNIFICANCE: Metformin inhibits the growth of most tumor cells, but BRAF-mutant melanoma cells are resistant to metformin in vitro, and metformin accelerates their growth in vivo. Unexpectedly, VEGF inhibitors and metformin synergize to suppress the growth of BRAF-mutant tumors, revealing a combination of drugs that may be effective in these patients. Cancer Discov; 2(4); 344-55. (c) 2012 AACR.
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CANCER DISCOVERY, 2012, 2 pp. 344 - 355
AMER ASSOC CANCER RESEARCH