Regulation of CEACAM1 Protein Expression by the Transcription Factor ETS-1 in BRAF-Mutant Human Metastatic Melanoma Cells

Karin Kfir-Elirachman, Rona Ortenberg, Bella Vizel, Michal J. Besser, Iris Barshack, Jacob Schachter, Yael Nemlich, Gal Markel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BRAF becomes constitutively activated in 50% to 70% of melanoma cases. CEACAM1 has a dual role in melanoma, including facilitation of cell proliferation and suppression of infiltrating lymphocytes, which are consistent with its value as a marker for poor prognosis in melanoma patients. Here we show that BRAFV600E melanoma cells treated with BRAF and MEK inhibitors (MAPKi) downregulate CEACAM1 mRNA and protein expression in a dose- and exposure time–dependent manners. Indeed, there is a significant correlation between the presence of BRAFV600E and CEACAM1 expression in melanoma specimens obtained from 45 patients. Vemurafenib-resistant cell systems reactivate the MAPK pathway and restore basal CEACAM1 mRNA and protein levels. These combined results suggest transcriptional regulation. Indeed, luciferase reporting assays show that CEACAM1 promoter (CEACAM1p) activity is significantly reduced by MAPKi. Importantly, we show that the MAPK-driven CEACAM1p activity is mediated by ETS1, a major transcription factor and downstream effector of the MAPK pathway. Phosphorylation mutant ETS1T38A shows a dominant negative effect over CEACAM1 expression. The data are consistent with independent RNAseq data from serial biopsies of melanoma patients treated with BRAF inhibitors, which demonstrate similar CEACAM1 downregulation. Finally, we show that CEACAM1 downregulation by MAPKi renders the cells more sensitive to T-cell activation. These results provide a new view on a potential immunological mechanism of action of MAPKi in melanoma, as well as on the aggressive phenotype observed in drug-resistant cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-409
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


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