Integrative CRISPR Activation and Small Molecule Inhibitor Screening for lncRNA Mediating BRAF Inhibitor Resistance in Melanoma
The incidence of melanoma, being one of the most commonly occurring cancers, has been rising since the past decade. Patients at advanced stages of the disease have very poor prognoses, as opposed to at the earlier stages. The conventional targeted therapy is well defined and effective for advanced-stage melanomas for patients not responding to the standard-of-care immunotherapy. However, targeted therapies do not prove to be as effective as patients inevitably develop V-Raf Murine Sarcoma Viral Oncogene Homolog B (BRAF)-inhibitor resistance to the respective drugs. Factors which are driving melanoma drug resistance mainly involve mutations in the mitogen-activated protein kinase ( MAPK ) pathway, e.g., BRAF splice variants, neuroblastoma RAS viral oncogene homolog ( NRAS ) amplification or parallel survival pathways. However, those mechanisms do not explain all cases of occurring resistances. Therefore, other factors accounting for BRAFi resistance must be better understood. Among them there are long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), but these remain functionally poorly understood. Here, we conduct a comprehensive, unbiased, and integrative study of lncRNA expression, coupled with a Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/Cas9-mediated activation (CRISPRa) and small molecule inhibitor screening for BRAF inhibitor resistance to expand the knowledge of potentially druggable lncRNAs, their function, and pave the way for eventual combinatorial treatment approaches targeting diverse pathways in melanoma.