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Getachew Boru, Colleen M. Cebulla, Klarke M. Sample, James B. Massengill, Frederick H. Davidorf, Mohamed H. Abdel-Rahman; Heterogeneity in Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) Pathway Activation in Uveal Melanoma With Somatic GNAQ and GNA11 Mutations. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(7):2474-2480. doi: 10.1167/iovs.18-26452.
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The activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway has been suggested as the major downstream target when GNAQ and GNA11 (GNAQ/11) are mutated in uveal melanoma (UM). However, clinical trials with single agent MEK inhibitor showed no clinical significance in altering the overall outcome of the disease in UM; therefore, we investigated the correlation between naturally occurring mutations in GNAQ/11 and activation of MAPK pathway in vivo in primary UM.
Screening for activating mutations in codons 183 and 209 of GNAQ/11 was carried out by sequencing and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) in a cohort of 42 primary UM. Activation of the MAPK pathway and other potential downstream signals was assessed by immunohistochemistry and/or Western blot analysis. Potential downstream signaling of mutant and wild type GNAQ/11 was studied by transient transfection assay in nonmutant cell lines.
Somatic mutations in GNAQ/11 were observed in 35/42 (83.3%) of primary UM. Tumors with GNAQ/11 mutations showed variations in the activation of ERK1/2 with significant tumor heterogeneity. Weak and undetectable ERK1/2 activation was observed in 4/35 (11.4%) and 8/35 (22.9%) of the GNAQ/11 mutant UM, respectively. Tumor heterogeneity of GNAQ/11 mutations was also observed in a subset of tumors.
Our results indicate that there is marked variation in MAPK activation in UM with GNAQ/11 mutations. Thus, GNAQ/11 mutational status is not a sufficient biomarker to adequately predict UM patient responses to single-agent selective MEK inhibitor therapy.
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