Malignant melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and NRF2 has been proposed as a main regulator of tumor cell malignancy. Still the mechanisms how NRF2 is contributing to melanoma progression are incompletely understood. Here we analyzed the effects of either NRF2 induction or depletion, and we also quantified changes on the whole cell proteome level. Our results showed that inhibition of NRF2 leads to a loss of reactive oxygen species protection, but at the same time to an induction of an epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype and an up-regulation of the stem cell marker CD44. Additionally, cells devoid of NRF2 showed increased cell viability after treatment with a MYC and a BRAF inhibitor. Importantly, survival upon vemurafenib treatment was dependent on CD44 expression. Finally, analysis of archival melanoma patient samples confirmed a vice versa relationship of NRF2 and CD44 expression. In summary, we recorded changes in the proteome after NRF2 modulation in melanoma cells. Surprisingly, we identified that NRF2 inhibition lead to induction of an EMT phenotype and an increase in survival of cells after apoptosis induction. Therefore, we propose that it is important for future therapies targeting NRF2 to consider blocking EMT promoting pathways in order to achieve efficient tumor therapy.
- Cell Line, Tumor
- Hyaluronan Receptors/genetics
- Melanoma/drug therapy
- NF-E2-Related Factor 2/genetics
- Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf/genetics