The RAF inhibitor PLX4032 inhibits ERK signaling and tumor cell proliferation in a V600E BRAF-selective manner

Eric W. Joseph, Christine A. Pratilas, Poulikos I. Poulikakos, Madhavi Tadi, Weiqing Wang, Barry S. Taylor, Ensar Halilovic, Yogindra Persaud, Feng Xing, Agnes Viale, James Tsai, Paul B. Chapman, Gideon Bollag, David B. Solit, Neal Rosen

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355 Scopus citations


Tumors with mutant BRAF and some with mutant RAS are dependent upon ERK signaling for proliferation, and their growth is suppressed by MAPK/ERK kinase (MEK) inhibitors. In contrast, tumor cells with human EGF receptor (HER) kinase activation proliferate in a MEK-independent manner. These findings have led to the development of RAF and MEK inhibitors as anticancer agents. Like MEK inhibitors, the RAF inhibitor PLX4032 inhibits the proliferation of BRAF V600E tumor cells but not that of HER kinase-dependent tumors. However, tumors with RAS mutation that are sensitive to MEK inhibition are insensitive to PLX4032. MEK inhibitors inhibit ERK phosphorylation in all normal and tumor cells, whereas PLX4032 inhibits ERK signaling only in tumor cells expressing BRAFV600E. In contrast, the drug activates MEK and ERK phosphorylation in cells with wildtype BRAF. In BRAFV600E tumor cells, MEK and RAF inhibitors affect the expression of a common set of genes. PLX4032 inhibits ERK signaling output in mutant BRAF cells, whereas it transiently activates the expression of these genes in tumor cells with wild-type RAF. Thus, PLX4032 inhibits ERK signaling output in a mutant BRAF-selective manner. These data explainwhythe drug selectively inhibits the growth of mutant BRAF tumors and suggest that it will not cause toxicity resulting from the inhibition of ERK signaling in normal cells. This selectivity may lead to a broader therapeutic index and help explain the greater antitumor activity observed with this drug than with MEK inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14903-14908
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 17 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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