Although clinical studies have evaluated several MEK1/2 inhibitors, it is unlikely that MEK1/2 inhibitors will be studied clinically. BRAF mutations have been proposed as a responder marker of MEK1/2 inhibitors in a preclinical study. However, current clinical approaches focusing on BRAF mutations have shown only moderate sensitivity of MEK1/2 inhibitors. This has led to insufficient support for their promoted clinical adoption. Further characterization of tumors sensitive to MEK inhibitors holds great promise for optimizing drug therapy for patients with these tumors. Here, we report that β-catenin mutations accelerate apoptosis induced by MEK1/2 inhibitor. SMK-17, a selective MEK1/2 inhibitor, induced apoptosis in tumor cell lines harboring β-catenin mutations at its effective concentration. To confirm that β-catenin mutations and mutant β-catenin-mediated TCF7L2 (also known as TCF4) transcriptional activity is a predictive marker of MEK inhibitors, we evaluated the effects of dominant-negative TCF7L2 and of active, mutated β-catenin on apoptosis induced by MEK inhibitor. Indeed, dominant-negative TCF7L2 reduced apoptosis induced by MEK inhibitor, whereas active, mutated β-catenin accelerated it. Our findings show that β-catenin mutations are an important responder biomarker for MEK1/2 inhibitors.
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