RhoA activation promotes glucose uptake to elevate proliferation in MAPK inhibitor resistant melanoma cells

Read the full article See related articles

Listed in

This article is not in any list yet, why not save it to one of your lists.
Log in to save this article


Cutaneous melanomas harboring a B-Raf V600E mutation are treated with immune check point inhibitors or kinase inhibitor combination therapies relying on MAPK inhibitors (MAPKi) Dabrafenib and Trametinib (Curti and Faries, 2021). However, cells become resistant to treatments over the timespan of a few months. Resistance to MAPKi has been associated with adoption of an aggressive amoeboid phenotype characterized by elevated RhoA signaling, enhanced contractility and thick cortical filamentous actin (F-actin) structures (Kim et al., 2016; Misek et al., 2020). Targeting active RhoA through Rho-kinase (ROCK) inhibitors, either alone or in combination with immunotherapies, reverts MAPKi-resistance (Misek et al., 2020; Orgaz et al., 2020). Yet, the mechanisms for this behavior remain largely unknown. Given our recent findings of cytoskeleton’s role in cancer cell proliferation (Mohan et al., 2019), survival (Weems et al., 2023), and metabolism (Park et al., 2020), we explored possibilities by which RhoA-driven changes in cytoskeleton structure may confer resistance. We confirmed elevated activation of RhoA in a panel of MAPKi-resistant melanoma cell lines, leading to a marked increase in the presence of contractile F-actin bundles. Moreover, these cells had increased glucose uptake and glycolysis, a phenotype disrupted by pharmacological perturbation of ROCK. However, glycolysis was unaffected by disruption of F-actin bundles, indicating that glycolytic stimulation in MAPKi-resistant melanoma is independent of F-actin organization. Instead, our findings highlight a mechanism in which elevated RhoA signaling activates ROCK, leading to the activation of insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS1) and P85 of the PI3K pathway, which promotes cell surface expression of GLUT1 and elevated glucose uptake. Application of ROCK inhibitor GSK269962A results in reduced glucose uptake and glycolysis, thus impeding cell proliferation. Our study adds a mechanism to the proposed use of ROCK inhibitors for long-term treatments on MAPKi-resistant melanomas.

Article activity feed