bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2019‒11‒17
fourteen papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen
University College London Cancer Institute

  1. J Cell Sci. 2019 Nov 13. pii: jcs222570. [Epub ahead of print]132(21):
      The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway coordinates environmental and intracellular cues to control eukaryotic cell growth. As a pivot point between anabolic and catabolic processes, mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) signaling has established roles in regulating metabolism, translation and autophagy. Hyperactivity of the mTOR pathway is associated with numerous human diseases, including diabetes, cancer and epilepsy. Pharmacological inhibition of the mTOR pathway can extend lifespan in a variety of model organisms. Given its broad control of essential cellular processes and clear relevance to human health, there is extensive interest in elucidating how upstream inputs regulate mTORC1 activation. In this Cell Science at a Glance article and accompanying poster, we summarize our understanding of how extracellular and intracellular signals feed into the mTOR pathway, how the lysosome acts as an mTOR signaling hub, and how downstream signaling controls autophagy and lysosome biogenesis.
    Keywords:  Amino acids; Autophagy; Cell growth; Glucose; Lysosome; Nutrients; Signaling; mTORC1
  2. iScience. 2019 Oct 26. pii: S2589-0042(19)30428-6. [Epub ahead of print]21 509-520
      Mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a fundamental regulator of cell growth, proliferation, and metabolism. mTOR is activated in renal cancer and accelerates tumor progression. Here, we report that the mTOR inhibitor, DEP domain-containing mTOR-interacting protein (DEPTOR), is strikingly suppressed in clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) tumors and cell lines. We demonstrate that DEPTOR is repressed by both hypoxia-inducible factors, HIF-1 and HIF-2, which occurs through activation of the HIF-target gene and transcriptional repressor, BHLHe40/DEC1/Stra13. Restoration of DEPTOR- and CRISPR/Cas9-mediated knockout experiments demonstrate that DEPTOR is growth inhibitory in ccRCC. Furthermore, loss of DEPTOR confers resistance to second-generation mTOR kinase inhibitors through deregulated mTORC1 feedback to IRS-2/PI3K/Akt. This work reveals a hitherto unknown mechanism of resistance to mTOR kinase targeted therapy that is mediated by HIF-dependent reprograming of mTOR/DEPTOR networks and suggests that restoration of DEPTOR in ccRCC will confer sensitivity to mTOR kinase therapeutics.
    Keywords:  Biological Sciences; Cancer; Cell Biology
  3. Am J Med Genet A. 2019 Nov 15.
      Megalencephaly-capillary malformation syndrome (MCAP) is a brain overgrowth disorder characterized by cortical malformations (specifically polymicrogyria), vascular anomalies, and segmental overgrowth secondary to somatic activating mutations in the PI3K-AKT-MTOR pathway (PIK3CA). Cases of growth failure and hypoglycemia have been reported in patients with MCAP, raising the suspicion for unappreciated growth hormone (GH) deficiency. Here we report an observational multicenter study of children with MCAP and GH deficiency. Eleven participants were confirmed to have GH deficiency, all with very low or undetectable circulating concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-1 and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3. Seven underwent GH stimulation testing and all had insufficient responses with a median GH peak of 3.7 ng/ml (range 1.1-8.6). Growth patterns revealed a drastic decline in length z-scores within the first year of life but then stabilized afterward. Five were treated with GH; one discontinued due to inconsolability. The other four participants continued on GH with improvement in linear growth velocity. Other endocrinopathies were identified in 7 of the 11 participants in this cohort. This study indicates that GH deficiency is associated with MCAP and that children with MCAP and hypoglycemia and/or postnatal growth failure should be evaluated for GH deficiency and other endocrinopathies.
    Keywords:   PIK3CA; growth hormone deficiency; hypoglycemia; megalencephaly-capillary malformation syndrome
  4. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Nov 15. pii: 201911393. [Epub ahead of print]
      The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, which plays a critical role in regulating cellular growth and metabolism, is aberrantly regulated in the pathogenesis of a variety of neoplasms. Here we demonstrate that dual mTORC1/mTORC2 inhibitors OSI-027 and PP242 cause catastrophic macropinocytosis in rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) cells and cancers of the skin, breast, lung, and cervix, whereas the effects are much less pronounced in immortalized human keratinocytes. Using RMS as a model, we characterize in detail the mechanism of macropinocytosis induction. Macropinosomes are distinct from endocytic vesicles and autophagosomes in that they are single-membrane bound vacuoles formed by projection, ruffling, and contraction of plasma membranes. They are positive for EEA-1 and LAMP-1 and contain watery fluid but not organelles. The vacuoles then merge and rupture, killing the cells. We confirmed the inhibition of mTORC1/mTORC2 as the underpinning mechanism for macropinocytosis. Exposure to rapamycin, an mTORC1 inhibitor, or mTORC2 knockdown alone had little or reduced effect relative to the combination. We further demonstrate that macropinocytosis depends on MKK4 activated by elevated reactive oxygen species. In a murine xenograft model, OSI-027 reduced RMS tumor growth. Molecular characterization of the residual tumors was consistent with the induction of macropinocytosis. Furthermore, relative to the control xenograft tumors, the residual tumors manifested reduced expression of cell proliferation markers and proteins that drive the epithelial mesenchymal transition. These data indicate a role of mTORC2 in regulating tumor growth by macropinocytosis and suggest that dual inhibitors could help block refractory or recurrent RMS and perhaps other neoplasms and other cancer as well.
    Keywords:  EMT; RMS xenografts; mTORC1/2 inhibitors; macropinocytosis; rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines
  5. Cancers (Basel). 2019 Oct 25. pii: E1653. [Epub ahead of print]11(11):
      Oxygen sensing is crucial for adaptation to variable habitats and physiological conditions. Low oxygen tension, or hypoxia, is a common feature of solid tumors, and hypoxic tumors are often more aggressive and resistant to therapy. Here we show that, in cultured mammalian cells, hypoxia suppressed lysosomal acidification/activation and receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) degradation. Hypoxia down-regulated mTORc1, reducing its ability to activate transcription factor EB (TFEB), a master regulator of V-ATPase, the lysosomal proton pump. Hypoxia prevented epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) degradation in tumor tissues, whereas activation of lysosomes enhanced tumor cell response to anti-EGFR treatment. Our results link oxygen tension and lysosomal activity, provide a molecular explanation of the malignant phenotype associated with hypoxic tumors, and suggest activation of lysosomes may provide therapeutic benefit in RTK-targeted cancer therapy.
    Keywords:  EGFR; hypoxia; lysosome; oxygen tension; receptor tyrosine kinase
  6. Leukemia. 2019 Nov 12.
      In addition to oncogenic MYC translocations, Burkitt lymphoma (BL) depends on the germinal centre (GC) dark zone (DZ) B cell survival and proliferation programme, which is characterized by relatively low PI3K-AKT activity. Paradoxically, PI3K-AKT activation facilitates MYC-driven lymphomagenesis in mice, and it has been proposed that PI3K-AKT activation is essential for BL. Here we show that the PI3K-AKT activity in primary BLs and BL cell lines does not exceed that of human non-neoplastic tonsillar GC DZ B cells. BLs were not sensitive to AKT1 knockdown, which induced massive cell death in pAKThigh DLBCL cell lines. Likewise, BL cell lines show low sensitivity to pan-AKT inhibitors. Moreover, hyper-activation of the PI3K-AKT pathway by overexpression of a constitutively active version of AKT (myrAKT) or knockdown of PTEN repressed the growth of BL cell lines. This was associated with increased AKT phosphorylation, NF-κB activation, and downregulation of DZ genes including the proto-oncogene MYB and the DZ marker CXCR4. In contrast to GCB-DLBCL, PTEN overexpression was tolerated by BL cell lines. We conclude that the molecular mechanisms instrumental to guarantee the survival of normal DZ B cells, including the tight regulation of the PTEN-PI3K-AKT axis, also operate in the survival/proliferation of BL.
  7. Int J Cancer. 2019 Nov 12.
      Endometrial cancers have high rates of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway alterations. MK-2206 is an allosteric inhibitor of AKT, an effector kinase of PI3K signals. We hypothesized patients with tumors harboring PIK3CA mutations would be more likely to benefit from MK-2206 than those without PIK3CA mutation. A phase II study was performed in patients with recurrent endometrial cancer; all histologies except carcinosarcoma were eligible. Up to 2 prior chemotherapy lines were permitted, excluding prior treatment with PI3K pathway inhibitors. The first 18 patients were treated with MK-2206 200mg weekly. Due to unacceptable toxicity, dose was reduced to 135mg. Co-primary endpoints were objective response rate (ORR) and progression free survival at 6 months (6moPFS). Thirty-seven patients were enrolled (1 ineligible). By somatic PIK3CA mutation analysis, 9 patients were mutant (MT) (1 with partial response [PR]/6moPFS, 2 with 6moPFS). Twenty-seven patients were wild-type (WT) (1 PR and 4 6moPFS). Most common toxicities were rash (44%), fatigue (41%), nausea (42%) and hyperglycemia (31%). Grade 3 and 4 toxicities occurred in 25% and 17% of patients, respectively. Exploratory analysis found serous histology had greater 6moPFS as compared to all other histologies (5/8 vs. 2/28, p=.003). PTEN expression was associated with median time to progression (p= 0.04). No other significant associations with PI3K pathway alterations were identified. There is limited single agent activity of MK-2206 in PIK3CA MT and PIK3CA WT endometrial cancer populations. Activity was detected in patients with serous histology and due to their poor outcomes warrants further study. (NCT01307631) This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  Endometrial Cancer; PI3K/AKT; endometrioid; serous; treatment
  8. Cell Rep. 2019 Nov 12. pii: S2211-1247(19)31353-1. [Epub ahead of print]29(7): 2028-2040.e8
      In developing neurons, phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) control axon growth and branching by positively regulating PI3K/PI(3,4,5)P3, but how neurons are able to generate sufficient PI(3,4,5)P3 in the presence of high levels of the antagonizing phosphatase PTEN is difficult to reconcile. We find that normal axon morphogenesis involves homeostasis of elongation and branch growth controlled by accumulation of PI(3,4,5)P3 through PTEN inhibition. We identify a plasma membrane-localized protein-protein interaction of PTEN with plasticity-related gene 2 (PRG2). PRG2 stabilizes membrane PI(3,4,5)P3 by inhibiting PTEN and localizes in nanoclusters along axon membranes when neurons initiate their complex branching behavior. We demonstrate that PRG2 is both sufficient and necessary to account for the ability of neurons to generate axon filopodia and branches in dependence on PI3K/PI(3,4,5)P3 and PTEN. Our data indicate that PRG2 is part of a neuronal growth program that induces collateral branch growth in axons by conferring local inhibition of PTEN.
    Keywords:  PI3K signaling; PTEN; axon morphogenesis; branching; neuronal growth homeostasis; phosphoinositide signaling; plasticity-related gene family
  9. J Biol Chem. 2019 Nov 11. pii: jbc.RA119.011519. [Epub ahead of print]
      In cancer, aberrant growth factor receptor signaling reprograms cellular metabolism and global gene transcription to drive aggressive growth, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Here we show that in the highly lethal brain tumor glioblastoma (GBM), mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2), a critical core component of the growth factor signaling system, couples acetyl-CoA production with nuclear translocation of histone-modifying enzymes including pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) and class IIa histone deacetylases (HDACs) to globally alter histone acetylation. Integrated analyses in orthotopic mouse models and in clinical GBM samples reveal that mTORC2 controls iron metabolisms via histone H3 acetylation of the iron-related gene promoter, promoting tumor cell survival. These results nominate mTORC2 as a critical epigenetic regulator of iron metabolism in cancer.
    Keywords:  acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA); glioblastoma; glucose metabolism; histone acetylation; iron metabolism; mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)
  10. Cancer Res. 2019 Nov 12. pii: canres.1684.2019. [Epub ahead of print]
      Inhibition of the androgen receptor (AR) is the main strategy to treat advanced prostate cancers. AR-independent treatment-resistant prostate cancer is a major unresolved clinical problem. Prostate cancer patients with alterations in canonical WNT pathway genes, which lead to β-catenin activation, are refractory to AR-targeted therapies. Here using clinically relevant murine prostate cancer models, we investigated the significance of β-catenin activation in prostate cancer progression and treatment resistance. β-catenin activation, independent of the cell-of-origin, cooperated with Pten loss to drive AR-independent castration-resistant prostate cancer. Prostate tumours with β-catenin activation relied on the non-canonical WNT ligand WNT5a for sustained growth. WNT5a repressed AR expression and maintained the expression of c-Myc, an oncogenic effector of β-catenin activation, by mediating nuclear localization of NFƙBp65 and β-catenin. Overall, WNT/β-catenin and AR signalling are reciprocally inhibited. Therefore, inhibiting WNT/β-catenin signalling by limiting WNT secretion in concert with AR inhibition may be useful for treating prostate cancers with alterations in WNT pathway genes.
  11. Cell Signal. 2019 Nov 09. pii: S0898-6568(19)30264-5. [Epub ahead of print] 109468
      Over-activation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR network is a well-known pathogenic event that leads to hyper-proliferation. Pharmacological targeting of this pathway has been developed for the treatment of multiple diseases, including cancer. In polycystic kidney disease (PKD), the mTOR cascade promotes cyst growth by boosting proliferation, size and metabolism of kidney tubule epithelial cells. Therefore, mTOR inhibition has been tested in pre-clinical and clinical studies, but only the former showed positive results. This review reports recent discoveries describing the activity and molecular mechanisms of mTOR activation in tubule epithelial cells and cyst formation and discusses the evidence of an upstream regulation of mTOR by the PI3K/Akt axis. In particular, the complex interconnection of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR network with the principal signaling routes involved in the suppression of cyst formation are dissected. These interactions include the antagonism and the reciprocal negative regulation between mTOR complex 1 and the proteins whose deletion causes Autosomal Dominant PKD, the polycystins. In addition, the emerging role of phopshoinositides, membrane components modulated by PI3K, will be presented in the context of primary cilium signaling, cell polarization and protection from cyst formation. Overall, studies demonstrate that the activity of various members of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR network goes beyond the classical transduction of mitogenic signals and can impact several aspects of kidney tubule homeostasis and morphogenesis. These properties might be useful to guide the establishment of more effective treatment protocols to be tested in clinical trials.
    Keywords:  Cancer; PI3K; Polycystic kidney disease; Polycystins; Primary cilium; mTOR
  12. J Cell Biol. 2019 Nov 13. pii: jcb.201812087. [Epub ahead of print]
      Maintaining the correct ratio of apical, basal, and lateral membrane domains is important for epithelial physiology. Here, we show that CD2AP is a critical determinant of epithelial membrane proportions. Depletion of CD2AP or phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibition results in loss of F-actin and expansion of apical-basal domains, which comes at the expense of lateral membrane height in MDCK cells. We demonstrate that the SH3 domains of CD2AP bind to PI3K and are necessary for PI3K activity along lateral membranes and constraining cell area. Tethering the SH3 domains of CD2AP or p110γ to the membrane is sufficient to rescue CD2AP-knockdown phenotypes. CD2AP and PI3K are both upstream and downstream of actin polymerization. Since CD2AP binds to both actin filaments and PI3K, CD2AP might bridge actin assembly to PI3K activation to form a positive feedback loop to support lateral membrane extension. Our results provide insight into the squamous to cuboidal to columnar epithelial transitions seen in complex epithelial tissues in vivo.
  13. Nature. 2019 Nov;575(7782): 299-309
      The problem of resistance to therapy in cancer is multifaceted. Here we take a reductionist approach to define and separate the key determinants of drug resistance, which include tumour burden and growth kinetics; tumour heterogeneity; physical barriers; the immune system and the microenvironment; undruggable cancer drivers; and the many consequences of applying therapeutic pressures. We propose four general solutions to drug resistance that are based on earlier detection of tumours permitting cancer interception; adaptive monitoring during therapy; the addition of novel drugs and improved pharmacological principles that result in deeper responses; and the identification of cancer cell dependencies by high-throughput synthetic lethality screens, integration of clinico-genomic data and computational modelling. These different approaches could eventually be synthesized for each tumour at any decision point and used to inform the choice of therapy.
  14. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2019 Nov 11.
      The first wave of genetically targeted therapies for cancer focused on drugging gene products that are recurrently mutated in specific cancer types. However, mutational analysis of tumours has largely been exhausted as a strategy for the identification of new cancer targets that are druggable with conventional approaches. Furthermore, some known genetic drivers of cancer have not been directly targeted yet owing to their molecular structure (undruggable oncogenes) or because they result in functional loss (tumour suppressor genes). Functional genomic screening based on the genetic concept of synthetic lethality provides an avenue to discover drug targets in all these areas. Although synthetic lethality is not a new idea, recent advances, including CRISPR-based gene editing, have made possible systematic screens for synthetic lethal drug targets in human cancers. Such approaches have broad potential to drive the discovery of the next wave of genetic cancer targets and ultimately the introduction of effective medicines that are still needed for most cancers.