Stimulation of the insulin and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) receptor activates the phosphoinositide-3-kinase/Akt/ mTOR pathway causing pleiotropic cellular effects including an mTOR-dependent loss in insulin receptor substrate-1 expression leading to feedback down-regulation of signaling through the pathway. In model systems, tumors exhibiting mutational activation of phosphoinositide-3-kinase/Akt kinase, a common event in cancers, are hypersensitive to mTOR inhibitors, including rapamycin. Despite the activity in model systems, in patients, mTOR inhibitors exhibit more modest antitumor activity. We now show that mTOR inhibition induces insulin receptor substrate-1 expression and abrogates feedback inhibition of the pathway, resulting in Akt activation both in cancer cell lines and in patient tumors treated with the rapamycin derivative, RAD001. IGF-I receptor inhibition prevents rapamycin-induced Akt activation and sensitizes tumor cells to inhibition of mTOR. In contrast, IGF-I reverses the antiproliferative effects of rapamycin in serum-free medium. The data suggest that feedback down-regulation of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling is a frequent event in tumor cells with constitutive mTOR activation. Reversal of this feedback loop by rapamycin may attenuate its therapeutic effects, whereas combination therapy that ablates mTOR function and prevents Akt activation may have improved antitumor activity. (Cancer Res 2006; 66(3): 1500-8)
Pathway-specific therapy is the future of cancer management. The oncogenic phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway is frequently activated in solid tumors; however, currently, no reliable test for PI3K pathway activation exists for human tumors. Taking advantage of the observation that loss of PTEN, the negative regulator of PI3K, results in robust activation of this pathway, we developed and validated a microarray gene expression signature for immunohistochemistry (IHC)-detectable PTEN loss in breast cancer (BC). The most significant signature gene was PTEN itself, indicating that PTEN mRNA levels are the primary determinant of PTEN protein levels in BC. Some PTEN IHC-positive BCs exhibited the signature of PTEN loss, which was associated to moderately reduced PTEN mRNA levels cooperating with specific types of PIK3CA mutations and/or amplification of HER2. This demonstrates that the signature is more sensitive than PTEN IHC for identifying tumors with pathway activation. In independent data sets of breast, prostate, and bladder carcinoma, prediction of pathway activity by the signature correlated significantly to poor patient outcome. Stathmin, encoded by the signature gene STMN1, was an accurate IHC marker of the signature and had prognostic significance in BC. Stathmin was also pathway-pharmacodynamic in vitro and in vivo. Thus, the signature or its components such as stathmin may be clinically useful tests for stratification of patients for anti-PI3K pathway therapy and monitoring therapeutic efficacy. This study indicates that aberrant PI3K pathway signaling is strongly associated with metastasis and poor survival across carcinoma types, highlighting the enormous potential impact on patient survival that pathway inhibition could achieve.breast cancer ͉ metastasis ͉ stathmin ͉ microarray
SUMMARY PIK3CA and PTEN alterations are common in human cancer, but only a fraction of such tumors are dependent upon AKT signaling. AKT-independence is associated with redundant activation of cap-dependent translation mediated by convergent regulation of the translational repressor 4E-BP1 by the AKT and ERK pathways. This provides mechanistic bases for the limited activity of AKT and MEK inhibitors in tumors with co-mutation of both pathways and the profound synergy observed with combined inhibition. Whereas such tumors are sensitive to a dominant active 4E-BP1 mutant, knockdown of 4E-BP1 expression reduces their dependence on AKT/ERK signaling for translation or survival. Thus, 4E-BP1 plays a prominent role in mediating the effects of these pathways in tumors in which they are activated by mutation.
Tumor cells with mutated PTEN proliferate in an EGFR-independent manner. Induction of PTEN sensitizes cells to EGFR inhibition, and the combination causes synergistic apoptosis. Synergy is due to inhibition of two parallel pathways that phosphorylate the proapoptotic protein BAD at distinct sites. Serine 112 phosphorylation is EGFR/MEK/MAPK dependent, whereas serine 136 phosphorylation is PI3K/Akt dependent. Either phosphorylation is sufficient to sequester BAD to 14-3-3. BAD is released and apoptosis is induced only if both serines are dephosphorylated in response to inhibition of both pathways. Reduction of BAD expression by RNA interference prevents apoptosis in response to pathway inhibition. Thus, BAD integrates the antiapoptotic effects of both pathways. Combined inhibition of EGFR and PI3K signaling may be a useful therapeutic strategy.
Phosphorylation of the p53 tumor suppressor protein is likely to play an important role in regulating its activity. Serine 15 phosphorylation of p53 leads to a stabilization of p53 by reducing its interaction with murine double minute 2, a negative regulatory partner. Recently, p53 was reported to be activated and phosphorylated at serine 15 following UV radiation. However, the signaling pathway that mediates UV-induced phosphorylation is less well characterized. Here, we provide evidence that UVB-induced phosphorylation of p53 at serine 15 is mediated directly by ERKs and p38 kinase. We find that in a mouse JB6 epidermal cell line, ERKs and p38 kinase form a complex with p53 following UVB radiation. Inhibition of ERKs or p38 kinase activity by the use of a dominant negative mutant of ERK2 or p38 kinase or their respective specific inhibitor, PD98059 or SB202190, results in abrogation of UVB-induced phosphorylation of p53 at serine 15. Strikingly, incubation of UVB-activated ERKs or p38 kinase immunoprecipitated complex with exogenous p53 shows serine 15 phosphorylation of both exogenous and co-precipitated endogenous p53 protein. Additionally, active recombinant ERK1/2 and p38 kinase but not JNKs are also able to phosphorylate p53 at serine 15 in vitro. Furthermore, pretreatment of cells with PD98059 or SB202190 blocks p53-dependent transcription activity but increases the level of p53 co-precipitated murine double minute. These results strongly suggest that both ERKs and p38 kinase have a direct role in UVB-induced phosphorylation of p53 at serine 15 in vivo.
BackgroundDysregulated PI3K/Akt signaling occurs commonly in breast cancers and is due to HER2 amplification, PI3K mutation or PTEN inactivation. The objective of this study was to determine the role of Akt activation in breast cancer as a function of mechanism of activation and whether inhibition of Akt signaling is a feasible approach to therapy.Methodology/Principal FindingsA selective allosteric inhibitor of Akt kinase was used to interrogate a panel of breast cancer cell lines characterized for genetic lesions that activate PI3K/Akt signaling: HER2 amplification or PI3K or PTEN mutations in order to determine the biochemical and biologic consequences of inhibition of this pathway. A variety of molecular techniques and tissue culture and in vivo xenograft models revealed that tumors with mutational activation of Akt signaling were selectively dependent on the pathway. In sensitive cells, pathway inhibition resulted in D-cyclin loss, G1 arrest and induction of apoptosis, whereas cells without pathway activation were unaffected. Most importantly, the drug effectively inhibited Akt kinase and its downstream effectors in vivo and caused complete suppression of the growth of breast cancer xenografts with PI3K mutation or HER2 amplification, including models of the latter selected for resistance to Herceptin. Furthermore, chronic administration of the drug was well-tolerated, causing only transient hyperglycemia without gross toxicity to the host despite the pleiotropic normal functions of Akt.Conclusions/SignificanceThese data demonstrate that breast cancers with PI3K mutation or HER2 amplification are selectively dependent on Akt signaling, and that effective inhibition of Akt in tumors is feasible and effective in vivo. These findings suggest that direct inhibition of Akt may represent a therapeutic strategy for breast and other cancers that are addicted to the pathway including tumors with resistant to Herceptin.
We present a novel method for deriving network models from molecular profiles of perturbed cellular systems. The network models aim to predict quantitative outcomes of combinatorial perturbations, such as drug pair treatments or multiple genetic alterations. Mathematically, we represent the system by a set of nodes, representing molecular concentrations or cellular processes, a perturbation vector and an interaction matrix. After perturbation, the system evolves in time according to differential equations with built-in nonlinearity, similar to Hopfield networks, capable of representing epistasis and saturation effects. For a particular set of experiments, we derive the interaction matrix by minimizing a composite error function, aiming at accuracy of prediction and simplicity of network structure. To evaluate the predictive potential of the method, we performed 21 drug pair treatment experiments in a human breast cancer cell line (MCF7) with observation of phospho-proteins and cell cycle markers. The best derived network model rediscovered known interactions and contained interesting predictions. Possible applications include the discovery of regulatory interactions, the design of targeted combination therapies and the engineering of molecular biological networks.
Identifying the spectrum of genetic alterations that cooperate with critical oncogenes to promote transformation provides a foundation for understanding the diversity of clinical phenotypes observed in human cancers. Here, we performed integrated analyses to identify genomic alterations that co-occur with oncogenic BRAF in melanoma and abrogate cellular dependence upon this oncogene. We identified concurrent mutational inactivation of the PTEN and RB1 tumor suppressors as a mechanism for loss of BRAF/MEK dependence in melanomas harboring V600EBRAF mutations. RB1 alterations were mutually exclusive with loss of p16INK4A, suggesting that whereas p16INK4A and RB1 may have overlapping roles in preventing tumor formation, tumors with loss of RB1 exhibit diminished dependence upon BRAF signaling for cell proliferation. These findings provide a genetic basis for the heterogeneity of clinical outcomes in patients treated with targeted inhibitors of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. Our results also suggest a need for comprehensive screening for RB1 and PTEN inactivation in patients treated with RAF and MEK-selective inhibitors to determine whether these alterations are associated with diminished clinical benefit in patients whose cancers harbor mutant BRAF.
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