Aberrant activation of MAPK signaling leads to the activation of oncogenic transcriptomes. How MAPK signaling is coupled with the transcriptional response in cancer is not fully understood. In 2 MAPK-activated tumor types, gastrointestinal stromal tumor and melanoma, we found that ETV1 and other Pea3-ETS transcription factors are critical nuclear effectors of MAPK signaling that are regulated through protein stability. Expression of stabilized Pea3-ETS factors can partially rescue the MAPK transcriptome and cell viability after MAPK inhibition. To identify the players involved in this process, we performed a pooled genome-wide RNAi screen using a fluorescence-based ETV1 protein stability sensor and identified COP1, DET1, DDB1, UBE3C, PSMD4, and COP9 signalosome members. COP1 or DET1 loss led to decoupling between MAPK signaling and the downstream transcriptional response, where MAPK inhibition failed to destabilize Pea3 factors and fully inhibit the MAPK transcriptome, thus resulting in decreased sensitivity to MAPK pathway inhibitors. We identified multiple COP1 and DET1 mutations in human tumors that were defective in the degradation of Pea3-ETS factors. Two melanoma patients had de novo DET1 mutations arising after vemurafenib treatment. These observations indicate that MAPK signaling–dependent regulation of Pea3-ETS protein stability is a key signaling node in oncogenesis and therapeutic resistance to MAPK pathway inhibition.
Yuanyuan Xie, Zhen Cao, Elissa W.P. Wong, Youxin Guan, Wenfu Ma, Jenny Q. Zhang, Edward G. Walczak, Devan Murphy, Leili Ran, Inna Sirota, Shangqian Wang, Shipra Shukla, Dong Gao, Simon R.V. Knott, Kenneth Chang, Justin Leu, John Wongvipat, Cristina R. Antonescu, Gregory Hannon, Ping Chi, Yu Chen