Despite recent advances in treatment, melanoma remains the deadliest form of skin cancer, due to its highly metastatic nature. Many melanomas with oncogenic BRAFV600E lose the tumor suppressor PTEN, leading to unconstrained PI3K/AKT signaling and a drastic increase in melanoma invasiveness, but the contribution of AKT to melanoma metastasis has not been fully explored. Differential roles for AKT1 and AKT3 have been suggested in many cancers, but a requirement for AKT2 has not been described in melanoma. We report here that shRNA-mediated, conditional knockdown of AKTs in a variety of human melanoma cell lines reveals that selective AKT2 depletion inhibits migratory and invasive phenotypes in vitro, and prevents metastasis in vivo. Our results support a critical role for AKT2 in stimulating melanoma cell migration and invasion and in supporting growth of metastatic lesions. As AKT inhibitors advance in clinical trials for melanoma, our findings could inform therapeutic strategies to improve treatment options and outcome for this devastating disease.

Citation Format: Siobhan K. McRee, Jodie R. Pietruska, Philip N. Tsichlis, Phil W. Hinds. AKT2 loss impairs BRAF mutant melanoma metastasis [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018; 2018 Apr 14-18; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2018;78(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 1112.