bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2020‒10‒04
thirteen papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen
University College London Cancer Institute

  1. Cell Rep. 2020 Sep 29. pii: S2211-1247(20)31185-2. [Epub ahead of print]32(13): 108196
      Loss of PTEN, the negative regulator of PI3K activity, is frequent in glioblastomas (GBMs). However, the role of the two major PI3K isoforms, p110α and p110β, in PTEN-deficient gliomagenesis remains unknown. We show that PTEN-deficient GBM largely depends on p110α for proliferation and p110β for migration. Genetic ablation of either isoform delays tumor progression in mice, but only ablating both isoforms completely blocks GBM driven by the concurrent ablation of Pten and p53. BKM120 (buparlisib) treatment only modestly prolongs survival in mice bearing intracranial Pten/p53 null tumors due to partial pathway inhibition. BKM120 extends the survival of mice bearing intracranial tumors in which p110β, but not p110α, has been genetically ablated in the Pten/p53 null glioma, indicating that BKM120 fails to inhibit p110β effectively. Our study suggests that the failure of PI3K inhibitors in GBM may be due to insufficient inhibition of p110β and indicates a need to develop brain-penetrant p110α/β inhibitors.
    Keywords:  BKM120; BYL719; GEMM; PDX; PI3K isoform; PTEN; PTEN-deficient; glioblastoma; isoform-selective inhibitor; migration
  2. Front Oncol. 2020 ;10 1475
      Background: PI3K/AKT signaling pathway is activated in breast cancer and associated with cell survival. We explored the prevalence of PI3K pathway alterations and co-expression with other markers in breast cancer subtypes. Methods: Samples of non-matched primary and metastatic breast cancer submitted to a CLIA-certified genomics laboratory were molecularly profiled to identify pathogenic or presumed pathogenic mutations in the PIK3CA-AKT1-PTEN pathway using next generation sequencing. Cases with loss of PTEN by IHC were also included. The frequency of co-alterations was examined, including DNA damage response pathways and markers of response to immuno-oncology agents. Results: Of 4,895 tumors profiled, 3,558 (72.7%) had at least one alteration in the PIK3CA-AKT1-PTEN pathway: 1,472 (30.1%) harbored a PIK3CA mutation, 174 (3.6%) an AKT1 mutation, 2,682 (54.8%) had PTEN alterations (PTEN mutation in 7.0% and/or PTEN loss by IHC in 51.4% of cases), 81 (1.7%) harbored a PIK3R1 mutation, and 4 (0.08%) a PIK3R2 mutation. Most of the cohort consisted of metastatic sites (n = 2974, 60.8%), with PIK3CA mutation frequency increased in metastatic (32.1%) compared to primary sites (26.9%), p < 0.001. Other PIK3CA mutations were identified in 388 (7.9%) specimens, classified as "off-label," as they were not included in the FDA-approved companion test for PIK3CA mutations. Notable co-alterations included increased PD-L1 expression and high tumor mutational burden in PIK3CA-AKT1-PTEN mutated cohorts. Novel concurrent mutations were identified including CDH1 mutations. Conclusions: Findings from this cohort support further exploration of the clinical benefit of PI3K inhibitors for "off-label" PIK3CA mutations and combination strategies with potential clinical benefit for patients with breast cancer.
    Keywords:  CDH1; PD-L1; PI3K inhibitor; PIK3CA-AKT1-PTEN pathway; breast cancer; molecular profiling
  3. Reprod Sci. 2020 Sep 28.
      Cryopreservation and transplantation of ovarian tissue represent a promising fertility preservation technique for prepubertal patients or for patients requiring urgent oncological management. However, this technique has some limitations, including follicular loss directly after transplantation mainly due to ischaemic damage but also due to activation of primordial follicles (also known as follicular burnout), leading to follicular reserve loss in the graft and thereby potentially reducing its lifespan. In vitro and in vivo studies indicate that the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN)/Akt, mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), c-Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK), and Hippo signalling pathways are involved in primordial follicle activation. Here, we review the basic mechanisms linked to the follicle activation that occurs after cryopreservation and transplantation of ovarian tissue. A better understanding of the crosstalk between the different signalling pathways may lead to potential improvement of fertility restoration by extending graft lifespan through selective control of the activation of dormant follicles after transplantation of cryopreserved ovarian tissue.
    Keywords:  Cryopreservation; Fertility preservation; Follicular activation; Signalling pathways; Transplantation
  4. Front Oncol. 2020 ;10 1569
      Glioblastoma (GB) is the most common and aggressive brain malignancy, characterized by heterogeneity and drug resistance. PTEN, a crucial tumor suppressor, exhibits phosphatase-dependent (PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway)/independent (nucleus stability) activities to maintain the homeostatic regulation of numerous physiological processes. Premature and absolute loss of PTEN activity usually tends to cellular senescence. However, monoallelic loss of PTEN is frequently observed at tumor inception, and absolute loss of PTEN activity also occurs at the late stage of gliomagenesis. Consequently, aberrant PTEN homeostasis, mainly regulated at the post-translational level, renders cells susceptible to tumorigenesis and drug resistance. Ubiquitination-mediated degradation or deregulated intracellular localization of PTEN hijacks cell growth rheostat control for neoplastic remodeling. Functional inactivation of PTEN mediated by the overexpression of ubiquitin ligases (E3s) renders GB cells adaptive to PTEN loss, which confers resistance to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors and immunotherapies. In this review, we discuss how glioma cells develop oncogenic addiction to the E3s-PTEN axis, promoting their growth and proliferation. Antitumor strategies involving PTEN-targeting E3 ligase inhibitors can restore the tumor-suppressive environment. E3 inhibitors collectively reactivate PTEN and may represent next-generation treatment against deadly malignancies such as GB.
    Keywords:  E3 ubiquitin ligases; drug resistance; glioblastoma; glioma; phosphatase and tensin homolog; ubiquitination
  5. Nat Genet. 2020 Sep 28.
      Cancer cells retain genomic alterations that provide a selective advantage. The prediction and validation of advantageous alterations are major challenges in cancer genomics. Moreover, it is crucial to understand how the coexistence of specific alterations alters response to genetic and therapeutic perturbations. In the present study, we inferred functional alterations and preferentially selected combinations of events in >9,000 human tumors. Using a Bayesian inference framework, we validated computational predictions with high-throughput readouts from genetic and pharmacological screenings on 2,000 cancer cell lines. Mutually exclusive and co-occurring cancer alterations reflected, respectively, functional redundancies able to rescue the phenotype of individual target inhibition, or synergistic interactions, increasing oncogene addiction. Among the top scoring dependencies, co-alteration of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) subunit PIK3CA and the nuclear factor NFE2L2 was a synergistic evolutionary trajectory in squamous cell carcinomas. By integrating computational, experimental and clinical evidence, we provide a framework to study the combinatorial functional effects of cancer genomic alterations.
  6. Pediatr Nephrol. 2020 Oct 01.
      Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a multisystem hereditary disorder characterized by the growth of benign tumors (hamartomas) in multiple organs, including the kidneys. Renal angiomyolipomas (AML) are a major diagnostic feature of TSC and are present in the majority of patients by adulthood. However, AML are usually asymptomatic during childhood when neurological and developmental manifestations are the main source of morbidity. Kidney manifestations of TSC have historically been the main cause of morbidity and mortality of adults with TSC. The recognition that the complications of TSC are caused by dysregulation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway has led to an enormous progress in the management of patients with TSC in the last two decades, the establishment of diagnostic guidelines, and trials which have shown the therapeutic benefit of mTOR inhibitors. Kidney surveillance of children with TSC now provides the opportunity for timely interventions to reduce the impact of TSC in adulthood. In this review, we discuss the current management of kidney tumors associated with TSC, including the diagnosis, surveillance, and treatment options for these lesions. We also present outcome data from international registries demonstrating the effectiveness of the current management strategies. With clear management guidelines and efficient treatment of kidney tumors, we envisage that the long-term outcomes of patients with TSC will further improve in the future.
    Keywords:  Renal angiomyolipoma; Renal cell carcinoma; Tuberous sclerosis complex; mTOR inhibitor
  7. Oncogene. 2020 Oct 02.
      Neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC) is an aggressive variant of prostate cancer that either develops de novo or arises from prostate adenocarcinoma as a result of treatment resistance. Although the prostate basal cells have been shown to directly generate tumor cells with neuroendocrine features when transduced with oncogenic signaling, the identity of the cell-of-origin for de novo NEPC remains unclear. We show that the TACSTD2high human prostate luminal epithelia cells highly express SOX2 and are relatively enriched in the transition zone prostate. Both TACSTD2high and TACSTD2low luminal cells transduced by constitutively activated AKT1 (caAKT1), and c-Myc can form organoids containing versatile clinically relevant tumor cell lineages with regard to the expression of AR and the neuroendocrine cell markers Synaptophysin and Chromogranin A. Tumor organoid cells derived from the TACSTD2high luminal cells are more predisposed to neuroendocrine differentiation along passaging and are relatively more castration-resistant. Knocking down TACSTD2 and SOX2 both attenuate neuroendocrine differentiation of tumor organoid cells. This study demonstrates de novo neuroendocrine differentiation of the human prostate luminal epithelial cells induced by caAKT1 and c-Myc and reveals an impact of cellular status on initiation of lineage plasticity.
  8. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2020 Sep 26. pii: S0165-6147(20)30204-2. [Epub ahead of print]
      Metformin can improve patients' hyperglycemia through significant suppression of hepatic glucose production. However, up to 300 times higher concentrations of metformin accumulate in the intestine than in the circulation, where it alters nutrient metabolism in intestinal epithelial cells and microbiome, leading to increased lactate production. Hepatocytes use lactate to make glucose at the cost of energy expenditure, creating a futile intestine-liver cycle. Furthermore, metformin reduces blood lipopolysaccharides and its initiated low-grade inflammation and increased oxidative phosphorylation in liver and adipose tissues. These metformin effects result in the improvement of insulin sensitivity and glucose utilization in extrahepatic tissues. In this review, I discuss the current understanding of the impact of metformin on systemic metabolism and its molecular mechanisms of action in various tissues.
    Keywords:  Metformin; insulin resistance; mitochondria; nutrient metabolism
  9. Cell Rep. 2020 Sep 29. pii: S2211-1247(20)31176-1. [Epub ahead of print]32(13): 108187
      The dynamic nanoscale organization of cell surface receptors plays an important role in signaling. We determine this organization and its relation to activation of VEGF receptor-2 (VEGFR-2), a critical receptor tyrosine kinase in endothelial cells (ECs), by combining single-molecule imaging of endogenous VEGFR-2 in live ECs with multiscale computational analysis. We find that surface VEGFR-2 can be mobile or exhibit restricted mobility and be monomeric or non-monomeric, with a complex interplay between the two. This basal heterogeneity results in heterogeneity in the sequence of steps leading to VEGFR-2 activation by VEGF. Specifically, we find that VEGF can bind to monomeric and non-monomeric VEGFR-2 and that, when binding to monomeric VEGFR-2, its effect on dimerization depends on the mobility of VEGFR-2. Our study highlights the dynamic and heterogeneous nature of cell surface receptor organization and the need for multiscale, single-molecule-based analysis to determine its relationship to receptor activation and signaling.
    Keywords:  VEGFR; angiogenesis; computational analysis; multi-scale; nanoscale; particle tracking; quantitative microscopy; single-molecule imaging; spatiotemporal; stochastic
  10. Cancers (Basel). 2020 Sep 29. pii: E2809. [Epub ahead of print]12(10):
      Chromosomal instability (CIN) is an emerging hallmark of cancer and its role in therapeutic responses has been increasingly attracting the attention of the research community. To target the vulnerability of tumors with high CIN, it is important to identify the genes and mechanisms involved in the maintenance of CIN. In our work, we recognize the tumor suppressor gene Phosphatase and Tensin homolog (PTEN) as a potential gene causing CIN in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and show that TNBC with low expression levels of PTEN can be sensitized for the treatment with poly-(ADP-ribose)-polymerase 1 (PARP1) inhibitors, independent of Breast Cancer (BRCA) mutations or a BRCA-like phenotype. In silico analysis of mRNA expression data from 200 TNBC patients revealed low expression of PTEN in tumors with a high CIN70 score. Western blot analysis of TNBC cell lines confirm lower protein expression of PTEN compared to non TNBC cell lines. Further, PTEN-deficient cell lines showed cellular sensitivity towards PARP1 inhibition treatment. DNA fiber assays and examination of chromatin bound protein fractions indicate a protective role of PTEN at stalled replication forks. In this study, we recognize PTEN as a potential CIN-causing gene in TNBC and identify its important role in the replication processes.
    Keywords:  CIN; PARP1 inhibition; PTEN; TNBC; replication fork instability; replication stress
  11. Nat Commun. 2020 10 01. 11(1): 4923
      A goal of biology is to predict how mutations combine to alter phenotypes, fitness and disease. It is often assumed that mutations combine additively or with interactions that can be predicted. Here, we show using simulations that, even for the simple example of the lambda phage transcription factor CI repressing a gene, this assumption is incorrect and that perfect measurements of the effects of mutations on a trait and mechanistic understanding can be insufficient to predict what happens when two mutations are combined. This apparent paradox arises because mutations can have different biophysical effects to cause the same change in a phenotype and the outcome in a double mutant depends upon what these hidden biophysical changes actually are. Pleiotropy and non-monotonic functions further confound prediction of how mutations interact. Accurate prediction of phenotypes and disease will sometimes not be possible unless these biophysical ambiguities can be resolved using additional measurements.
  12. Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 01. 10(1): 16208
      Radiotherapy has a central role in the treatment of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway can decrease the efficiency of radiotherapy via the promotion of cell survival and DNA repair. Here, the influence of PI3K pathway inhibition on radiotherapy response was investigated. Two PI3K inhibitors were investigated and both BKM120 and GDC0980 effectively inhibited cellular and clonogenic growth in 6 HNSCC cells, both HPV-positive as well as HPV-negative. Despite targeted inhibition of the pathway and slight increase in DNA damage, PI3K inhibition did not show significant radiosensitization. Currently only one clinical trial is assessing the effectiveness of combining BKM120 with RT in HNSCC (NCT02113878) of which the results are eagerly awaited.
  13. Front Oncol. 2020 ;10 1533
      The theory of cancer stem cells (CSCs) proposes that the different cells within a tumor, as well as metastasis deriving from it, are originated from a single subpopulation of cells with self-renewal and differentiation capacities. These cancer stem cells are supposed to be critical for tumor expansion and metastasis, tumor relapse and resistance to conventional therapies, such as chemo- and radiotherapy. The acquisition of these abilities has been attributed to the activation of alternative pathways, for instance, WNT, NOTCH, SHH, PI3K, Hippo, or NF-κB pathways, that regulate detoxification mechanisms; increase the metabolic rate; induce resistance to apoptotic, autophagic, and senescence pathways; promote the overexpression of drug transporter proteins; and activate specific stem cell transcription factors. The elimination of CSCs is an important goal in cancer therapeutic approaches because it could decrease relapses and metastatic dissemination, which are main causes of mortality in oncology patients. In this work, we discuss the role of these signaling pathways in CSCs along with their therapeutic potential.
    Keywords:  CSC; EMT; cancer; stem cell-like pathways; therapy