Synchronized Targeting of Notch and ERBB Signaling Suppresses Melanoma Tumor Growth through Inhibition of Notch1 and ERBB3

Keman Zhang, Poki Wong, Christine Salvaggio, Amel Salhi, Iman Osman, Barbara Bedogni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Despite significant advances in melanoma therapy, melanoma remains the deadliest form of skin cancer, with a 5-year survival rate of only 15%. Thus, novel treatments are required to address this disease. Notch and ERBB are evolutionarily conserved signaling cascades required for the maintenance of melanocyte precursors. We show that active Notch1 (Notch1NIC) and active (phosphorylated) ERBB3 and ERBB2 correlate significantly and are similarly expressed in both mutated and wild-type BRAF melanomas, suggesting these receptors are co-reactivated in melanoma to promote survival. Whereas blocking either pathway triggers modest effects, combining a γ-secretase inhibitor to block Notch activation and a tyrosine kinase inhibitor to inhibit ERBB3/2 elicits synergistic effects, reducing cell viability by 90% and hampering melanoma tumor growth. Specific inhibition of Notch1 and ERBB3 mimics these results, suggesting these are the critical factors triggering melanoma tumor expansion. Notch and ERBB inhibition blunts AKT and NFκB signaling. Constitutive expression of NFκB partially rescues cell death. Blockade of both Notch and ERBB signaling inhibits the slow cycling JARID1B-positive cell population, which is critical for long-term maintenance of melanoma growth. We propose that blocking these pathways is an effective approach to treatment of melanoma patients regardless of whether they carry mutated or wild-type BRAF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-472
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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