bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2020‒02‒02
thirteen papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen
University College London Cancer Institute

  1. Nat Commun. 2020 Jan 31. 11(1): 644
      Obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus are global emergencies and long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are regulatory transcripts with elusive functions in metabolism. Here we show that a high fraction of lncRNAs, but not protein-coding mRNAs, are repressed during diet-induced obesity (DIO) and refeeding, whilst nutrient deprivation induced lncRNAs in mouse liver. Similarly, lncRNAs are lost in diabetic humans. LncRNA promoter analyses, global cistrome and gain-of-function analyses confirm that increased MAFG signaling during DIO curbs lncRNA expression. Silencing Mafg in mouse hepatocytes and obese mice elicits a fasting-like gene expression profile, improves glucose metabolism, de-represses lncRNAs and impairs mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activation. We find that obesity-repressed LincIRS2 is controlled by MAFG and observe that genetic and RNAi-mediated LincIRS2 loss causes elevated blood glucose, insulin resistance and aberrant glucose output in lean mice. Taken together, we identify a MAFG-lncRNA axis controlling hepatic glucose metabolism in health and metabolic disease.
  2. Nat Commun. 2020 Jan 29. 11(1): 575
      mTORC2 phosphorylates AKT in a hydrophobic motif site that is a biomarker of insulin sensitivity. In brown adipocytes, mTORC2 regulates glucose and lipid metabolism, however the mechanism has been unclear because downstream AKT signaling appears unaffected by mTORC2 loss. Here, by applying immunoblotting, targeted phosphoproteomics and metabolite profiling, we identify ATP-citrate lyase (ACLY) as a distinctly mTORC2-sensitive AKT substrate in brown preadipocytes. mTORC2 appears dispensable for most other AKT actions examined, indicating a previously unappreciated selectivity in mTORC2-AKT signaling. Rescue experiments suggest brown preadipocytes require the mTORC2/AKT/ACLY pathway to induce PPAR-gamma and establish the epigenetic landscape during differentiation. Evidence in mature brown adipocytes also suggests mTORC2 acts through ACLY to increase carbohydrate response element binding protein (ChREBP) activity, histone acetylation, and gluco-lipogenic gene expression. Substrate utilization studies additionally implicate mTORC2 in promoting acetyl-CoA synthesis from acetate through acetyl-CoA synthetase 2 (ACSS2). These data suggest that a principal mTORC2 action is controlling nuclear-cytoplasmic acetyl-CoA synthesis.
  3. Ann Oncol. 2019 Jul;pii: S0923-7534(19)31239-6. [Epub ahead of print]30(7): 1051-1060
      Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is characterised by poor outcomes and a historical lack of targeted therapies. Dysregulation of signalling through the phosphoinositide 3 (PI3)-kinase and AKT signalling pathway is one of the most frequent oncogenic aberrations of TNBC. Although mutations in individual genes occur relatively rarely, combined activating mutations in PIK3CA and AKT1, with inactivating mutations in phosphatase and tensin homologue, occur in ∼25%‒30% of advanced TNBC. Recent randomised trials suggest improved progression-free survival (PFS) with AKT-inhibitors in combination with first-line chemotherapy for patients with TNBC and pathway genetic aberrations. We review the evidence for PI3K pathway activation in TNBC, and clinical trial data for PI3K, AKT and mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors in TNBC. We discuss uncertainty over defining which cancers have pathway activation and the future overlap between immunotherapy and pathway targeting.
    Keywords:  AKT; PI3K; PTEN; predictive biomarkers; targeted therapy; triple-negative breast cancer
  4. Metabolism. 2020 Jan 24. pii: S0026-0495(20)30033-0. [Epub ahead of print] 154169
      BACKGROUND: Redirecting glucose from skeletal muscle and adipose tissue, likely benefits the tumor's energy demand to support tumor growth, as cancer patients with type 2 diabetes have 30% increased mortality rates. The aim of this study was to elucidate tissue-specific contributions and molecular mechanisms underlying cancer-induced metabolic perturbations.METHODS: Glucose uptake in skeletal muscle and white adipose tissue (WAT), as well as hepatic glucose production, were determined in control and Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) tumor-bearing C57BL/6 mice using isotopic tracers. Skeletal muscle microvascular perfusion was analyzed via a real-time contrast-enhanced ultrasound technique. Finally, the role of fatty acid turnover on glycemic control was determined by treating tumor-bearing insulin-resistant mice with nicotinic acid or etomoxir.
    RESULTS: LLC tumor-bearing mice displayed reduced insulin-induced blood-glucose-lowering and glucose intolerance, which was restored by etomoxir or nicotinic acid. Insulin-stimulated glucose uptake was 30-40% reduced in skeletal muscle and WAT of mice carrying large tumors. Despite compromised glucose uptake, tumor-bearing mice displayed upregulated insulin-stimulated phosphorylation of TBC1D4Thr642 (+18%), AKTSer474 (+65%), and AKTThr309 (+86%) in muscle. Insulin caused a 70% increase in muscle microvascular perfusion in control mice, which was abolished in tumor-bearing mice. Additionally, tumor-bearing mice displayed increased (+45%) basal (not insulin-stimulated) hepatic glucose production.
    CONCLUSIONS: Cancer can result in marked perturbations on at least six metabolically essential functions; i) insulin's blood-glucose-lowering effect, ii) glucose tolerance, iii) skeletal muscle and WAT insulin-stimulated glucose uptake, iv) intramyocellular insulin signaling, v) muscle microvascular perfusion, and vi) basal hepatic glucose production in mice. The mechanism causing cancer-induced insulin resistance may relate to fatty acid metabolism.
    Keywords:  Lewis lung carcinoma; cancer; glycaemic regulation; insulin resistance; microvascular perfusion
  5. Cancer Gene Ther. 2020 Jan 28.
      Phosphoinositide kinases (PIKs) are a group of lipid kinases that are important upstream activators of various signaling pathways that drive oncogenesis. Hyperactivation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathways-either via mutations or genomic amplification-confers key oncogenic activity, essential for the development and progression of several solid tumors. Alterations in the PIK3CA gene are associated with poor prognosis of solid malignancies. Contradictory reports exist in the literature regarding the prognostic value of PIK3CA in aggressive cancers, but most available data highlights an important role of PIK3CA mutation in mediating tumorigenesis via increased signaling of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR survival pathway. Several inhibitors of PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathways have been investigated as potential therapeutic options in solid malignancies. This article reviews the role of PIK3CA mutations and inhibitors of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway in cancer and examines association with the clinico-pathological parameters and prognosis.
  6. Ann Oncol. 2019 May;pii: S0923-7534(19)31171-8. [Epub ahead of print]30(5): 774-780
      BACKGROUND: BEECH investigated the efficacy of capivasertib (AZD5363), an oral inhibitor of AKT isoforms 1-3, in combination with the first-line weekly paclitaxel for advanced or metastatic estrogen receptor-positive (ER+)/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative (HER2-) breast cancer, and in a phosphoinositide 3-kinase, catalytic, alpha polypeptide mutation sub-population (PIK3CA+).PATIENTS AND METHODS: BEECH consisted of an open-label, phase Ib safety run-in (part A) in 38 patients with advanced breast cancer, and a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, phase II expansion (part B) in 110 women with ER+/HER2- metastatic breast cancer. In part A, patients received paclitaxel 90mg/m2 (days 1, 8 and 15 of a 28-day cycle) with capivasertib taken twice daily (b.i.d.) at two intermittent ascending dosing schedules. In part B, patients were randomly assigned, stratified by PIK3CA mutation status, to receive paclitaxel with either capivasertib or placebo. The primary end point for part A was safety to recommend a dose and schedule for part B; primary end points for part B were progression-free survival (PFS) in the overall and PIK3CA+ sub-population.
    RESULTS: Capivasertib was well tolerated, with a 400mg b.i.d. 4days on/3days off treatment schedule selected in part A. In part B, median PFS in the overall population was 10.9months with capivasertib versus 8.4months with placebo [hazard ratio (HR) 0.80; P=0.308]. In the PIK3CA+ sub-population, median PFS was 10.9months with capivasertib versus 10.8months with placebo (HR 1.11; P=0.760). Based on the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Event v4.0, the most common grade ≥3 adverse events in the capivasertib group were diarrhoea, hyperglycaemia, neutropoenia and maculopapular rash. Dose intensity of paclitaxel was similar in both groups.
    CONCLUSIONS: Capivasertib had no apparent impact on the tolerability and dose intensity of paclitaxel. Adding capivasertib to weekly paclitaxel did not prolong PFS in the overall population or PIK3CA+ sub-population of ER+/HER2- advanced/metastatic breast cancer patients. NCT01625286.
    Keywords:  AKT inhibitor; ER+; HER2−; PIK3CA; capivasertib; metastatic breast cancer
  7. Nat Metab. 2020 Jan;2(1): 41-49
      Central to cellular metabolism and cell proliferation are highly conserved signalling pathways controlled by mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)1,2, dysregulation of which are implicated in pathogenesis of major human diseases such as cancer and type 2 diabetes. AMPK pathways leading to reduced cell proliferation are well established and, in part, act through inhibition of TOR complex-1 (TORC1) activity. Here we demonstrate reciprocal regulation, specifically that TORC1 directly down-regulates AMPK signalling by phosphorylating the evolutionarily conserved residue Ser367 in the fission yeast AMPK catalytic subunit Ssp2, and AMPK α1Ser347/α2Ser345 in the mammalian homologs, which is associated with reduced phosphorylation of activation loop Thr172. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of TORC1 signalling led to AMPK activation in the absence of increased AMP:ATP ratios; under nutrient stress conditions this was associated with growth limitation in both yeast and human cell cultures. Our findings reveal fundamental, bi-directional regulation between two major metabolic signalling networks and uncover new opportunity for cancer treatment strategies aimed at suppressing cell proliferation in the nutrient-poor tumor microenvironment.
  8. Nat Commun. 2020 Jan 28. 11(1): 550
      Many cellular models aimed at elucidating cancer biology do not recapitulate pathobiology including tumor heterogeneity, an inherent feature of cancer that underlies treatment resistance. Here we introduce a cancer modeling paradigm using genetically engineered human pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) that captures authentic cancer pathobiology. Orthotopic engraftment of the neural progenitor cells derived from hiPSCs that have been genome-edited to contain tumor-associated genetic driver mutations revealed by The Cancer Genome Atlas project for glioblastoma (GBM) results in formation of high-grade gliomas. Similar to patient-derived GBM, these models harbor inter-tumor heterogeneity resembling different GBM molecular subtypes, intra-tumor heterogeneity, and extrachromosomal DNA amplification. Re-engraftment of these primary tumor neurospheres generates secondary tumors with features characteristic of patient samples and present mutation-dependent patterns of tumor evolution. These cancer avatar models provide a platform for comprehensive longitudinal assessment of human tumor development as governed by molecular subtype mutations and lineage-restricted differentiation.
  9. Oncogene. 2020 Jan 29.
      Aurora B is a serine/threonine kinase that has been implicated in regulating cell proliferation in distinct cancers, including breast cancer. Here we show that Aurora B expression is elevated in basal-like breast cancer (BLBC) compared with other breast cancer subtypes. This high level of expression seems to correlate with poor metastasis-free survival and relapse-free survival in affected patients. Mechanistically, we show that elevated Aurora B expression in breast cancer cells activates AKT/GSK3β to stabilize Snail1 protein, a master regulator of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), leading to EMT induction in a kinase-dependent manner. Conversely, Aurora B knock down by short-hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) suppresses AKT/GSK3β/Snail1 signaling, reverses EMT and reduces breast cancer metastatic potential in vitro and in vivo. Finally, we identified a specific OCT4 phosphorylation site (T343) responsible for mediating Aurora B-induced AKT/GSK3β/Snail1 signaling and EMT that could be attenuated by Aurora B kinase inhibitor treatment. These findings support that Aurora B induces EMT to promote breast cancer metastasis via OCT4/AKT/GSK3β/Snail1 signaling. Pharmacologic Aurora B inhibition might be a potential effective treatment for breast cancer patients with metastatic disease.
  10. Prostate. 2020 Jan 29.
      BACKGROUND: Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a downstream substrate activated by PI3K/AKT pathway and it is essential for cell migration. It exists as two complexes: mTORC1 and mTORC2. mTORC1 is known to be regulated by active AKT, but the activation of mTORC2 is poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the roles and differential activation of the two mTOR complexes during cell migration in prostate cancer cells.METHODS: We used small interfering RNA to silence the expression of Rac1 and the main components of mTOR complexes (regulatory associated protein of mTOR [RAPTOR] and rapamycin-insensitive companion of mTOR [RICTOR]) in LNCaP, DU145, and PC3 prostate cancer cell lines. We performed transwell migration assay to evaluate the migratory capability of the cells, and Western blot analysis to study the activation levels of mTOR complexes.
    RESULTS: Specific knockdown of RAPTOR and RICTOR caused a decrease of cell migration, suggesting their essential role in prostate cancer cell movement. Furthermore, epidermal growth factor (EGF) treatments induced the activation of both the mTOR complexes. Lack of Rac1 activity in prostate cancer cells blocked EGF-induced activation of mTORC2, but had no effect on mTORC1 activation. Furthermore, the overexpression of constitutively active Rac1 resulted in significant increase in cell migration and activation of mTORC2 in PC3 cells, but had no effect on mTORC1 activation. Active Rac1 was localized in the plasma membrane and was found to be in a protein complex, with RICTOR, but not RAPTOR.
    CONCLUSION: We suggest that EGF-induced activation of Rac1 causes the activation of mTORC2 via RICTOR. This mechanism plays a critical role in prostate cancer cell migration.
    Keywords:  PI3K/AKT/mTOR; Rac1; cell migration; mTORC1; mTORC2; prostate cancer
  11. Dev Cell. 2020 Jan 27. pii: S1534-5807(19)31067-6. [Epub ahead of print]52(2): 236-250.e7
      Regulation of embryonic diapause, dormancy that interrupts the tight connection between developmental stage and time, is still poorly understood. Here, we characterize the transcriptional and metabolite profiles of mouse diapause embryos and identify unique gene expression and metabolic signatures with activated lipolysis, glycolysis, and metabolic pathways regulated by AMPK. Lipolysis is increased due to mTORC2 repression, increasing fatty acids to support cell survival. We further show that starvation in pre-implantation ICM-derived mouse ESCs induces a reversible dormant state, transcriptionally mimicking the in vivo diapause stage. During starvation, Lkb1, an upstream kinase of AMPK, represses mTOR, which induces a reversible glycolytic and epigenetically H4K16Ac-negative, diapause-like state. Diapause furthermore activates expression of glutamine transporters SLC38A1/2. We show by genetic and small molecule inhibitors that glutamine transporters are essential for the H4K16Ac-negative, diapause state. These data suggest that mTORC1/2 inhibition, regulated by amino acid levels, is causal for diapause metabolism and epigenetic state.
    Keywords:  H4K16Ac; LKB1; amino acids; diapause; epigenetics; glutamine transporter; lipolysis; mTOR; metabolism; pluripotent stem cells
  12. Trends Cell Biol. 2020 Jan 23. pii: S0962-8924(19)30219-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Increasing evidence implicates metabolic pathways as key regulators of cell fate and function. Although the metabolism of glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids is essential to maintain overall energy homeostasis, the choice of a given metabolic pathway and the levels of particular substrates and intermediates increasingly appear to modulate specific cellular activities. This connection is likely related to the growing appreciation that molecules such as acetyl-CoA act as a shared currency between metabolic flux and chromatin modification. We review recent evidence for a role of metabolism in modulating cellular function in four distinct contexts. These areas include the immune system, the tumor microenvironment, the fibrotic response, and stem cell function. Together, these examples suggest that metabolic pathways do not simply provide the fuel that powers cellular activities but instead help to shape and determine cellular identity.
  13. Nat Commun. 2020 Jan 29. 11(1): 578
      Lipid droplets (LDs) are key subcellular organelles for regulating lipid metabolism. Although several subcellular organelles participate in lipid metabolism, it remains elusive whether physical contacts between subcellular organelles and LDs might be involved in lipolysis upon nutritional deprivation. Here, we demonstrate that peroxisomes and peroxisomal protein PEX5 mediate fasting-induced lipolysis by stimulating adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) translocation onto LDs. During fasting, physical contacts between peroxisomes and LDs are increased by KIFC3-dependent movement of peroxisomes toward LDs, which facilitates spatial translocations of ATGL onto LDs. In addition, PEX5 could escort ATGL to contact points between peroxisomes and LDs in the presence of fasting cues. Moreover, in adipocyte-specific PEX5-knockout mice, the recruitment of ATGL onto LDs was defective and fasting-induced lipolysis is attenuated. Collectively, these data suggest that physical contacts between peroxisomes and LDs are required for spatiotemporal translocation of ATGL, which is escorted by PEX5 upon fasting, to maintain energy homeostasis.