Although BRAFV600E mutation is associated with adverse clinical outcomes in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC), response and resistance mechanisms for therapeutic BRAFV600E inhibitors remains poorly understood. In the present study, we demonstrate that selective BRAFV600E inhibition activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which induces autophagy as a mechanism of therapeutic resistance in human cancers. The present data show AMPK-dependent cytoprotective roles of autophagy under conditions of therapeutic BRAFV600E inhibition, and AMPK was negatively correlated with BRAFV600E -dependent activation of MEK-ERK-RSK signaling and positively correlated with unc-51-like kinase 1 (ULK1), a key initiator of autophagy. Furthermore, selective BRAFV600E inhibition and concomitant suppression of autophagy led to the induction of apoptosis. Taken together, present experiments indicate that AMPK plays a role in the survival of BRAFV600E CRC cells by selective inhibition and suggest that the control of autophagy contributes to overcome the chemoresistance of BRAFV600E CRC cells.
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