MELK Promotes Melanoma Growth by Stimulating the NF-κB Pathway

Academic Article


  • Melanoma accounts for more than 80% of skin cancer-related deaths, and current therapies provide only short-term benefit to patients. Here, we show in melanoma cells that maternal embryonic leucine zipper kinase (MELK) is transcriptionally upregulated by the MAPK pathway via transcription factor E2F1. MELK knockdown or pharmacological inhibition blocked melanoma growth and enhanced the effectiveness of BRAFV600E inhibitor against melanoma cells. To identify mediators of MELK function, we performed stable isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture (SILAC) and identified 469 proteins that had downregulated phosphorylation after MELK inhibition. Of these proteins, 139 were previously reported as substrates of BRAF or MEK, demonstrating that MELK is an important downstream mediator of the MAPK pathway. Furthermore, we show that MELK promotes melanoma growth by activating NF-κB pathway activity via Sequestosome 1 (SQSTM1/p62). Altogether, these results underpin an important role for MELK in melanoma growth downstream of the MAPK pathway. Janostiak et al. find that MELK is overexpressed in melanoma and is necessary for melanoma growth. MELK regulates the NF-κB pathway via SQSTM1, which is necessary partly for its ability to promote melanoma growth.
  • Published In

  • Cell Reports  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Janostiak R; Rauniyar N; Lam TKT; Ou J; Zhu LJ; Green MR; Wajapeyee N
  • Start Page

  • 2829
  • End Page

  • 2841
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 10