|Low-copy piggyBac transposon mutagenesis in mice identifies genes driving melanoma. |
Ni, TK; Landrette, SF; Bjornson, RD; Bosenberg, MW; Xu, T
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Despite considerable efforts to sequence hypermutated cancers such as melanoma, distinguishing cancer-driving genes from thousands of recurrently mutated genes remains a significant challenge. To circumvent the problematic background mutation rates and identify new melanoma driver genes, we carried out a low-copy piggyBac transposon mutagenesis screen in mice. We induced eleven melanomas with mutation burdens that were 100-fold lower relative to human melanomas. Thirty-eight implicated genes, including two known drivers of human melanoma, were classified into three groups based on high, low, or background-level mutation frequencies in human melanomas, and we further explored the functional significance of genes in each group. For two genes overlooked by prevailing discovery methods, we found that loss of membrane associated guanylate kinase, WW and PDZ domain containing 2 and protein tyrosine phosphatase, receptor type, O cooperated with the v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B (BRAF) recurrent V600E mutation to promote cellular transformation. Moreover, for infrequently mutated genes often disregarded by current methods, we discovered recurrent mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase 1 (Map3k1)-activating insertions in our screen, mirroring recurrent MAP3K1 up-regulation in human melanomas. Aberrant expression of Map3k1 enabled growth factor-autonomous proliferation and drove BRAF-independent ERK signaling, thus shedding light on alternative means of activating this prominent signaling pathway in melanoma. In summary, our study contributes several previously undescribed genes involved in melanoma and establishes an important proof-of-principle for the utility of the low-copy transposon mutagenesis approach for identifying cancer-driving genes, especially those masked by hypermutation.