Molecular Pathways: Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Pathway Mutations and Drug Resistance

Antonia L. Pritchard, Nicholas K. Hayward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Receptor tyrosine kinases are a diverse family of transmembrane proteins that can activate multiple pathways upon ligation of the receptor, one of which is the series of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling cascades. The MAPK pathways play critical roles in a wide variety of cancer types, from hematologic malignancies to solid tumors. Aberrations include altered expression levels and activation states of pathway components, which can sometimes be attributable to mutations in individual members. The V600E mutation of BRAF was initially described in 2002 and has been found at particularly high frequency in melanoma and certain subtypes of colorectal cancer. In the relatively short time since this discovery, a family of drugs has been developed that specifically target this mutated BRAF isoform, which, after results from phase I/II and III clinical trials, was granted U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in August 2011. Although these drugs produce clinically meaningful increases in progression-free and overall survival, due to acquired resistance they have not improved mortality rates. New drugs targeting other members of the MAPK pathways are in clinical trials or advanced stages of development. It is hoped that combination therapies of these new drugs in conjunction with BRAF inhibitors will counteract the mechanisms of resistance and provide cures. The clinical implementation of next-generation sequencing is leading to a greater understanding of the genetic architecture of tumors, along with acquired mechanisms of drug resistance, which will guide the development of tumor-specific inhibitors and combination therapies in the future. Clin Cancer Res; 19(9); 2301–9. ©2013 AACR.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2301-2309
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Cancer Research : An Official Journal of the American Association for Cancer Research
Issue number9
Early online date13 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013


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