Myosin II reactivation and cytoskeletal remodeling as a hallmark and a vulnerability in melanoma therapy resistance

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© 2019 The Authors Despite substantial clinical benefit of targeted and immune checkpoint blockade-based therapies in melanoma, resistance inevitably develops. We show cytoskeletal remodeling and changes in expression and activity of ROCK-myosin II pathway during acquisition of resistance to MAPK inhibitors. MAPK regulates myosin II activity, but after initial therapy response, drug-resistant clones restore myosin II activity to increase survival. High ROCK-myosin II activity correlates with aggressiveness, identifying targeted therapy- and immunotherapy-resistant melanomas. Survival of resistant cells is myosin II dependent, regardless of the therapy. ROCK-myosin II ablation specifically kills resistant cells via intrinsic lethal reactive oxygen species and unresolved DNA damage and limits extrinsic myeloid and lymphoid immunosuppression. Efficacy of targeted therapies and immunotherapies can be improved by combination with ROCK inhibitors. Orgaz et al. show that myosin II activity increases during melanoma adaptation to MAPK pathway inhibition. ROCK-myosin II signaling supports survival of resistant melanoma cells and promotes immunosuppression. ROCK inhibitors improve the efficacy of MAPK inhibitors and immunotherapies in melanoma models.

Journal details

Journal Cancer Cell
Volume 37
Issue number 1
Pages 85-103.e9
Available online
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