The Brn-2 transcription factor links activated BRAF to melanoma proliferation.
Goodall J., Wellbrock C., Dexter TJ., Roberts K., Marais R., Goding CR.
Malignant melanoma, an aggressive and increasingly common cancer, is characterized by a strikingly high rate (70%) of mutations in BRAF, a key component of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase signaling pathway. How signaling events downstream from BRAF affect the underlying program of gene expression is poorly understood. We show that the Brn-2 POU domain transcription factor is highly expressed in melanoma cell lines but not in melanocytes or melanoblasts and that overexpression of Brn-2 in melanocytes results in increased proliferation. Expression of Brn-2 is strongly upregulated by Ras and MAP kinase signaling. Importantly, the Brn-2 promoter is stimulated by kinase-activating BRAF mutants and endogenous Brn-2 expression is inhibited by RNA interference-mediated downregulation of BRAF. Moreover, silent interfering RNA-mediated depletion of Brn-2 in melanoma cells expressing activated BRAF leads to decreased proliferation. The results suggest that the high levels of Brn-2 expression observed in melanomas link BRAF signaling to increased proliferation.