Enhanced response of melanoma cells to MEK inhibitors following unbiased IGF-1R down-regulation

Naida Suleymanova, Caitrin Crudden, Claire Worrall, Anica Dricu, Ada Girnita, Leonard Girnita*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Due to its ability to compensate for signals lost following therapeutic MAPKinhibition, insulin-like growth factor type 1 receptor (IGF-1R) co-targeting is a rational approach for melanoma treatment. However IGF-1R conformational changes associated with its inhibition can preferentially activate MAPK-pathway in a kinaseindependent manner, through a process known as biased signaling. We explored the impact of biased IGF-1R signaling, on response to MAPK inhibition in a panel of skin melanoma cell lines with differing MAPK and p53 mutation statuses. Specific siRNA towards IGF-1R down-regulates the receptor and all its signaling in a balanced manner, whilst IGF-1R targeting by small molecule Nutlin-3 parallels receptor degradation with a transient biased pERK1/2 activity, with both strategies synergizing with MEK1/2 inhibition. On the other hand, IGF-1R down-regulation by a targeted antibody (Figitumumab) induces a biased receptor conformation, preserved even when the receptor is exposed to the balanced natural ligand IGF-1. This process sustains MAPK activity and competes with the MEK1/2 inhibition. Our results indicate that IGF-1R down-regulation offers an approach to increase the sensitivity of melanoma cells to MAPK inhibition, and highlights that controlling biased signaling could provide greater specificity and precision required for multi-hit therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82256-82267
Number of pages12
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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