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Activation of the integrated stress response confers vulnerability to mitoribosome-targeting antibiotics in melanoma

Authors: Vendramin, Roberto; Katopodi, Vicky; Cinque, Sonia; Konnova, Angelina; Knezevic, Zorica; Adnane, Sara; Verheyden, Yvessa; Karras, Panagiotis; Demesmaeker, Ewout; Bosisio, Francesca M.; Kucera, Lukas; Rozman, Jan; Gladwyn-Ng, Ivan; Rizzotto, Lara; Dassi, Erik; Millevoi, Stefania; Bechter, Oliver; Marine, Jean-Christophe; Leucci, Eleonora

Online: https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20210571

Issue: J Exp Med. 2021 Sep 6;218(9):e20210571.


The ability to adapt to environmental stress, including therapeutic insult, contributes to tumor evolution and drug resistance. In suboptimal conditions, the integrated stress response (ISR) promotes survival by dampening cytosolic translation. We show that ISR-dependent survival also relies on a concomitant up-regulation of mitochondrial protein synthesis, a vulnerability that can be exploited using mitoribosome-targeting antibiotics. Accordingly, such agents sensitized to MAPK inhibition, thus preventing the development of resistance in BRAFV600E melanoma models. Additionally, this treatment compromised the growth of melanomas that exhibited elevated ISR activity and resistance to both immunotherapy and targeted therapy. In keeping with this, pharmacological inactivation of ISR, or silencing of ATF4, rescued the antitumoral response to the tetracyclines. Moreover, a melanoma patient exposed to doxycycline experienced complete and long-lasting response of a treatment-resistant lesion. Our study indicates that the repurposing of mitoribosome-targeting antibiotics offers a rational salvage strategy for targeted therapy in BRAF mutant melanoma and a therapeutic option for NRAS-driven and immunotherapy-resistant tumors.