bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2021‒03‒21
nineteen papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen
University College London Cancer Institute

  1. Br J Cancer. 2021 Mar 15.
      BACKGROUND: Eribulin is a microtubule-targeting agent approved for the treatment of advanced or metastatic breast cancer (BC) previously treated with anthracycline- and taxane-based regimens. PIK3CA mutation is associated with worse response to chemotherapy in oestrogen receptor-positive (ER+)/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative (HER2-) metastatic BC. We aimed to evaluate the role of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT pathway mutations in eribulin resistance.METHODS: Resistance to eribulin was evaluated in HER2- BC cell lines and patient-derived tumour xenografts, and correlated with a mutation in the PI3K/AKT pathway.
    RESULTS: Eleven out of 23 HER2- BC xenografts treated with eribulin exhibited disease progression. No correlation with ER status was detected. Among the resistant models, 64% carried mutations in PIK3CA, PIK3R1 or AKT1, but only 17% among the sensitive xenografts (P = 0.036). We observed that eribulin treatment induced AKT phosphorylation in vitro and in patient tumours. In agreement, the addition of PI3K inhibitors reversed primary and acquired resistance to eribulin in xenograft models, regardless of the genetic alterations in PI3K/AKT pathway or ER status. Mechanistically, PI3K blockade reduced p21 levels likely enabling apoptosis, thus sensitising to eribulin treatment.
    CONCLUSIONS: PI3K pathway activation induces primary resistance or early adaptation to eribulin, supporting the combination of PI3K inhibitors and eribulin for the treatment of HER2- BC patients.
  2. Biochem J. 2021 Mar 26. 478(6): 1199-1225
      PI3Ks are important lipid kinases that produce phosphoinositides phosphorylated in position 3 of the inositol ring. There are three classes of PI3Ks: class I PI3Ks produce PIP3 at plasma membrane level. Although D. melanogaster and C. elegans have only one form of class I PI3K, vertebrates have four class I PI3Ks called isoforms despite being encoded by four different genes. Hence, duplication of these genes coincides with the acquisition of coordinated multi-organ development. Of the class I PI3Ks, PI3Kα and PI3Kβ, encoded by PIK3CA and PIK3CB, are ubiquitously expressed. They present similar putative protein domains and share PI(4,5)P2 lipid substrate specificity. Fifteen years after publication of their first isoform-selective pharmacological inhibitors and genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) that mimic their complete and specific pharmacological inhibition, we review the knowledge gathered in relation to the redundant and selective roles of PI3Kα and PI3Kβ. Recent data suggest that, further to their redundancy, they cooperate for the integration of organ-specific and context-specific signal cues, to orchestrate organ development, physiology, and disease. This knowledge reinforces the importance of isoform-selective inhibitors in clinical settings.
    Keywords:  PI3K; genetically engineered mouse models; lipid signalling; pharmacological inhibitors
  3. Oncogene. 2021 Mar 13.
      Hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) are multipotent cells giving rise to all blood lineages during life. HSPCs emerge from the ventral wall of the dorsal aorta (VDA) during a specific timespan in embryonic development through endothelial hematopoietic transition (EHT). We investigated the ontogeny of HSPCs in mutant zebrafish embryos lacking functional pten, an important tumor suppressor with a central role in cell signaling. Through in vivo live imaging, we discovered that in pten mutant embryos a proportion of the HSPCs died upon emergence from the VDA, an effect rescued by inhibition of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K). Surprisingly, inhibition of PI3K in wild-type embryos also induced HSPC death. Surviving HSPCs colonized the caudal hematopoietic tissue (CHT) normally and committed to all blood lineages. Single-cell RNA sequencing indicated that inhibition of PI3K enhanced survival of multipotent progenitors, whereas the number of HSPCs with more stem-like properties was reduced. At the end of the definitive wave, loss of Pten caused a shift to more restricted progenitors at the expense of HSPCs. We conclude that PI3K signaling tightly controls HSPCs survival and both up- and downregulation of PI3K signaling reduces stemness of HSPCs.
  4. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 17. 11(1): 6137
      Low differentiation propensity towards a targeted lineage can significantly hamper the utility of individual human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) lines in biomedical applications. Here, we use monolayer and micropatterned cell cultures, as well as transcriptomic profiling, to investigate how variability in signalling pathway activity between human embryonic stem cell lines affects their differentiation efficiency towards definitive endoderm (DE). We show that endogenous suppression of WNT signalling in hPSCs at the onset of differentiation prevents the switch from self-renewal to DE specification. Gene expression profiling reveals that this inefficient switch is reflected in NANOG expression dynamics. Importantly, we demonstrate that higher WNT stimulation or inhibition of the PI3K/AKT signalling can overcome the DE commitment blockage. Our findings highlight that redirection of the activity of Activin/NODAL pathway by WNT signalling towards mediating DE fate specification is a vulnerable spot, as disruption of this process can result in poor hPSC specification towards DE.
  5. Cell Rep. 2021 Mar 16. pii: S2211-1247(21)00144-3. [Epub ahead of print]34(11): 108830
      Rab1A is a small GTPase known for its role in vesicular trafficking. Recent evidence indicates that Rab1A is essential for amino acids (aas) sensing and signaling to regulate mTORC1 in normal and cancer cells. However, Rab1A's in vivo function in mammals is not known. Here, we report the generation of tamoxifen (TAM)-induced whole body Rab1A knockout (Rab1A-/-) in adult mice. Rab1A-/- mice are viable but become hyperglycemic and glucose intolerant due to impaired insulin transcription and β-cell proliferation and maintenance. Mechanistically, Rab1A mediates AA-mTORC1 signaling, particularly branched chain amino acids (BCAA), to regulate the stability and localization of the insulin transcription factor Pdx1. Collectively, these results reveal a physiological role of aa-Rab1A-mTORC1 signaling in the control of whole-body glucose homeostasis in mammals. Intriguingly, Rab1A expression is reduced in β-cells of type 2 diabetes (T2D) patients, which is correlated with loss of insulin expression, suggesting that Rab1A downregulation contributes to T2D progression.
    Keywords:  PDX1; Rab1A; alpha-cell; amino acids; beta-cell; diabetes; glucose homeostasis; insulin; mTOR; trans-differentiation
  6. Dev Cell. 2021 Mar 09. pii: S1534-5807(21)00162-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Neuronal activity increases energy consumption and requires balanced production to maintain neuronal function. How activity is coupled to energy production remains incompletely understood. Here, we report that Rheb regulates mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid cycle flux of acetyl-CoA by activating pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) to increase ATP production. Rheb is induced by synaptic activity and lactate and dynamically trafficked to the mitochondrial matrix through its interaction with Tom20. Mitochondria-localized Rheb protein is required for activity-induced PDH activation and ATP production. Cell-type-specific gain- and loss-of-function genetic models for Rheb reveal reciprocal changes in PDH phosphorylation/activity, acetyl-CoA, and ATP that are not evident with genetic or pharmacological manipulations of mTORC1. Mechanistically, Rheb physically associates with PDH phosphatase (PDP), enhancing its activity and association with the catalytic E1α-subunit of PDH to reduce PDH phosphorylation and increase its activity. Findings identify Rheb as a nodal point that balances neuronal activity and neuroenergetics via Rheb-PDH axis.
    Keywords:  Rheb; mTORC1; mitochondria; neuroenergetics; neuronal activity; pyruvate dehydrogenase
  7. Br J Cancer. 2021 Mar 19.
      BACKGROUND: Epidemiological studies and meta-analyses show an association between statin use and a reduced incidence of colorectal cancer (CRC). We have shown that statins act on CRC through bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signalling, but the exact cellular targets and underlying mechanism of statin action remain elusive. In this study, we set out to assess the influence of statins on global cancer cell signalling by performing an array-based kinase assay using immobilised kinase substrates spanning the entire human kinome.METHODS: CRC cells with or without Lovastatin treatment were used for kinome analysis. Findings on kinome arrays were further confirmed by immunoblotting with activity-specific antibodies. Experiments in different CRC cell lines using immunoblotting, siRNA-mediated knockdown and treatment with specific BMP inhibitor Noggin were performed. The relevance of in vitro findings was confirmed in xenografts and in CRC patients treated with Simvastatin.
    RESULTS: Kinome analysis can distinguish between non-specific, toxic effects caused by 10 µM of Lovastatin and specific effects on cell signalling caused by 2 µM Lovastatin. Statins induce upregulation of PTEN activity leading to downregulation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signalling. Treatment of cells with the specific BMP inhibitor Noggin as well as PTEN knockdown and transfection of cells with a constitutively active form of AKT abolishes the effect of Lovastatin on mTOR phosphorylation. Experiments in xenografts and in patients treated with Simvastatin confirm statin-mediated BMP pathway activation, activation of PTEN and downregulation of mTOR signalling.
    CONCLUSIONS: Statins induce BMP-specific activation of PTEN and inhibition of PI3K/Akt/mTOR signalling in CRC.
  8. EMBO Rep. 2021 Mar 19. e51740
      Stress granules (SGs) are dynamic condensates associated with protein misfolding diseases. They sequester stalled mRNAs and signaling factors, such as the mTORC1 subunit raptor, suggesting that SGs coordinate cell growth during and after stress. However, the molecular mechanisms linking SG dynamics and signaling remain undefined. We report that the chaperone Hsp90 is required for SG dissolution. Hsp90 binds and stabilizes the dual-specificity tyrosine-phosphorylation-regulated kinase 3 (DYRK3) in the cytosol. Upon Hsp90 inhibition, DYRK3 dissociates from Hsp90 and becomes inactive. Inactive DYRK3 is subjected to two different fates: it either partitions into SGs, where it is protected from irreversible aggregation, or it is degraded. In the presence of Hsp90, DYRK3 is active and promotes SG disassembly, restoring mTORC1 signaling and translation. Thus, Hsp90 links stress adaptation and cell growth by regulating the activity of a key kinase involved in condensate disassembly and translation restoration.
    Keywords:  DYRK3; FUS-ALS; Hsp90; phase separation; stress granules
  9. Clin Cancer Res. 2021 Mar 16. pii: clincanres.4548.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      PURPOSE: This was a multicenter, histology-agnostic, single-arm prospective phase II trial of therapeutic activity of everolimus, an oral mTORC1 inhibitor, in patients with advanced solid tumors that harbored TSC1/TSC2 or MTOR mutations.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Patients with tumors with inactivating TSC1/TSC2 or activating MTOR mutations identified in any CLIA-certified laboratory were eligible. Patients were treated with everolimus 10mg once daily until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. The primary endpoint was objective response rate (ORR). Whole-exome sequencing was performed to identify co-occurring genomic alterations.
    RESULTS: Between 11/2015 and 10/2018, 30 patients were enrolled at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Tumors harbored TSC1 (13/30), TSC2 (15/30), concurrent TSC1 and TSC2 (1/30) or MTOR (1/30) mutations. The most common treatment-related adverse event of any grade was mucositis (8/30, 27%); one patient had fatal pneumonitis. Partial responses were seen in two patients (7%, 95%CI: 1%-22%). Median progression-free survival (PFS) was 2.3 months (95%CI: 1.8-3.7 months) and median overall survival (OS) was 7.3 months (95%CI: 4.5-12.7 months). There was no clear association between other genomic alterations and response. Of the two patients with objective response, one had upper tract urothelial carcinoma with biallelic inactivation of TSC1 and high tumor mutation burden, the other had uterine carcinoma with biallelic TSC2 inactivating mutations and PEComa-like pathologic features.
    CONCLUSIONS: Everolimus therapy had a disappointing objective response rate (7%) in this pan-cancer, mutation-selected, basket study.
  10. Elife. 2021 Mar 15. pii: e65722. [Epub ahead of print]10
      In addition to controlled expression of genes by specific regulatory circuits, the abundance of proteins and transcripts can also be influenced by physiological states of the cell such as growth rate and metabolism. Here we examine the control of gene expression by growth rate and metabolism, by analyzing a multi-omics dataset consisting of absolute-quantitative abundances of the transcriptome, proteome, and amino acids in 22 steady-state yeast cultures. We find that transcription and translation are coordinately controlled by the cell growth rate via RNA polymerase II and ribosome abundance, but they are independently controlled by nitrogen metabolism via amino acid and nucleotide availabilities. Genes in central carbon metabolism, however, are distinctly regulated and do not respond to the cell growth rate or nitrogen metabolism as all other genes. Understanding these effects allows the confounding factors of growth rate and metabolism to be accounted for in gene expression profiling studies.
    Keywords:  S. cerevisiae; cell biology; computational biology; systems biology
  11. J Vis Exp. 2021 Feb 23.
      Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are an important cause of tumor growth, metastasis, and recurrence. Isolation and identification of CSCs are of great significance for tumor research. Currently, several techniques are used for the identification and purification of CSCs from tumor tissues and tumor cell lines. Separation and analysis of side population (SP) cells are two of the commonly used methods. The methods rely on the ability of CSCs to rapidly expel fluorescent dyes, such as Hoechst 33342. The efflux of the dye is associated with the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters and can be inhibited by ABC transporter inhibitors. Methods for staining cultured tumor cells with Hoechst 33342 and analyzing the proportion of their SP cells by flow cytometry are described. This assay is convenient, fast, and cost-effective. Data generated in this assay can contribute to a better understanding of the effect of genes or other extracellular and intracellular signals on the stemness properties of tumor cells.
  12. Cancer Res. 2021 Mar 16. pii: canres.2435.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide. The treatment of lung cancer patients harboring mutant EGFR with orally administered EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) has been a paradigm shift. Osimertinib and rociletinib are third-generation irreversible EGFR TKIs targeting the EGFR T790M mutation. Osimertinib is the current standard of care for patients with EGFR mutations due to increased efficacy, lower side effects, and enhanced brain penetrance. Unfortunately, all patients develop resistance. Genomic approaches have primarily been used to interrogate resistance mechanisms. Here we characterized the proteome and phosphoproteome of a series of isogenic EGFR mutant lung adenocarcinoma cell lines that are either sensitive or resistant to these drugs, comprising the most comprehensive proteomic dataset resource to date to investigate third-generation EGFR TKI resistance in lung adenocarcinoma. Unbiased global quantitative mass spectrometry uncovered alterations in signaling pathways, revealed a proteomic signature of epithelial mesenchymal transition, and identified kinases and phosphatases with altered expression and phosphorylation in TKI-resistant cells. Decreased tyrosine phosphorylation of key sites in the phosphatase SHP2 suggests its inhibition, resulting in subsequent inhibition of RAS/MAPK and activation of PI3K/AKT pathways. Anticorrelation analyses of this phosphoproteomic dataset with published drug-induced P100 phosphoproteomic datasets from the Library of Integrated Network-Based Cellular Signatures program predicted drugs with the potential to overcome EGFR TKI resistance. The PI3K/MTOR inhibitor dactolisib in combination with osimertinib overcame resistance both in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, this study reveals global proteomic alterations upon third-generation EGFR TKI resistance and highlights potential novel approaches to overcome resistance.
  13. J Biol Chem. 2021 Mar 16. pii: S0021-9258(21)00323-9. [Epub ahead of print] 100545
      Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling promotes cancer progression. In particular, the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) induced by TGF-β is considered crucial to the malignant phenotype of cancer cells. Here, we report that the EMT-associated cellular responses induced by TGF-β are mediated by distinct signaling pathways that diverge at Smad3. By expressing chimeric Smad1/Smad3 proteins in SMAD3 knockout A549 cells, we found that the β4 region in the Smad3 MH1 domain is essential for TGF-β-induced cell motility, but is not essential for other EMT-associated responses including epithelial marker downregulation. TGF-β was previously reported to enhance cell motility by activating Rac1 via phosphoinositide 3-kinase. Intriguingly, TGF-β-dependent signaling mediated by Smad3's β4 region causes the downregulation of multiple mRNAs that encode GTPase activating proteins that target Rac1 (ARHGAPs), thereby attenuating Rac1 inactivation. Therefore, two independent pathways downstream of TGF-β type I receptor contribute cooperatively to sustained Rac1 activation, thereby leading to enhanced cell motility.
    Keywords:  ARHGAP; Rac1; Smad; cell motility
  14. Oncogene. 2021 Mar 19.
      Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a driving force in promoting malignant cancer, including initiation, growth, and metastasis. EMT is a dynamic process that can undergo a mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) and partial transitions between both phenotypes, termed epithelial-mesenchymal plasticity (EMP). In cancer, the acquisition of EMP results in a spectrum of phenotypes, promoting tumor cell heterogeneity and resistance to standard of care therapy. Here we describe a real-time fluorescent dual-reporter for vimentin and E-cadherin, biomarkers of the mesenchymal and epithelial cell phenotypes, respectively. Stable dual-reporter cell lines generated from colorectal (SW620), lung (A549), and breast (MDA-MB-231) cancer demonstrate a spectrum of EMT cell phenotypes. We used the dual-reporter to isolate the quasi epithelial, epithelial/mesenchymal, and mesenchymal phenotypes. Although EMT is a dynamic process, these isolated quasi-EMT-phenotypes remain stable to spontaneous EMP in the absence of stimuli and during prolonged cell culture. However, the quasi-EMT phenotypes can readily be induced to undergo EMT or MET with growth factors or small molecules. Moreover, isolated EMT phenotypes display different tumorigenic properties and are morphologically and metabolically distinct. 3D high-content screening of ~23,000 compounds using dual-reporter mesenchymal SW620 tumor organoids identified small molecule probes that modulate EMT, and a subset of probes that effectively induced MET. The tools, probes, and models described herein provide a coherent mechanistic understanding of mesenchymal cell plasticity. Future applications utilizing this technology and probes are expected to advance our understanding of EMT and studies aimed at therapeutic strategies targeting EMT.
  15. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 Mar 14. 13
      Caloric restriction has been shown to robustly ameliorate age-related diseases and to prolong lifespan in several model organisms, and these beneficial effects are dependent on the stimulation of autophagy. Autophagy dysfunction contributes to the accumulation of altered macromolecules, and is a key mechanism of promoting aging and age-related disorders, as neurodegenerative ones. We have previously shown that caloric restriction (CR), and CR mimetics Neuropeptide Y (NPY) and ghrelin, stimulate autophagy in rat cortical neurons, however by unknown molecular mechanisms. Overall, we show that CR, NPY, and ghrelin stimulate autophagy through PI3K/AKT/MTOR inhibition and ERK1/2-MAPK activation. The knowledge of these kinases in autophagy regulation and the contribution to the understanding of molecular mechanism facilitates the discovery of more targeted therapeutic strategies to stimulate autophagy, which is relevant in the context of age-related disorders.
    Keywords:  aging; autophagy; caloric restriction mimetics; cortical neurons
  16. Nat Commun. 2021 Mar 19. 12(1): 1747
      Despite the increasing number of effective anti-cancer therapies, successful treatment is limited by the development of drug resistance. While the contribution of genetic factors to drug resistance is undeniable, little is known about how drug-sensitive cells first evade drug action to proliferate in drug. Here we track the responses of thousands of single melanoma cells to BRAF inhibitors and show that a subset of cells escapes drug via non-genetic mechanisms within the first three days of treatment. Cells that escape drug rely on ATF4 stress signalling to cycle periodically in drug, experience DNA replication defects leading to DNA damage, and yet out-proliferate other cells over extended treatment. Together, our work reveals just how rapidly melanoma cells can adapt to drug treatment, generating a mutagenesis-prone subpopulation that expands over time.
  17. Oncogene. 2021 Mar 19.
      Cancer stem cells (CSC) play a pivotal role in cancer metastasis and resistance to therapy. Previously, we compared the phosphoproteomes of breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) enriched subpopulation and non-BCSCs sorted from breast cancer patient-derived xenograft (PDX), and identified a function unknown protein, transmembrane and coiled-coil domain family 3 (TMCC3) to be a potential enrichment marker for BCSCs. We demonstrated greater expression of TMCC3 in BCSCs than non-BCSCs and higher expression of TMCC3 in metastatic lymph nodes and lungs than in primary tumor of breast cancer PDXs. TMCC3 silencing suppressed mammosphere formation, ALDH activity and cell migration in vitro, along with reduced tumorigenicity and metastasis in vivo. Mechanistically, we found that AKT activation was reduced by TMCC3 silencing, but enhanced by TMCC3 overexpression. We further demonstrated that TMCC3 interacted directly with AKT through its 1-153 a.a. domain by cell-free biochemical assay in vitro and co-immunoprecipitation and interaction domain mapping assays in vivo. Based on domain truncation studies, we showed that the AKT-interacting domain of TMCC3 was essential for TMCC3-induced AKT activation, self-renewal, and metastasis. Clinically, TMCC3 mRNA expression in 202 breast cancer specimens as determined by qRT-PCR assay showed that higher TMCC3 expression correlated with poorer clinical outcome of breast cancer, including early-stage breast cancer. Multivariable analysis identified TMCC3 expression as an independent risk factor for survival. These findings suggest that TMCC3 is crucial for maintenance of BCSCs features through AKT regulation, and TMCC3 expression has independent prognostic significance in breast cancer. Thus, TMCC3 may serve as a new target for therapy directed against CSCs.
  18. Genetics. 2021 Feb 09. pii: iyaa037. [Epub ahead of print]217(2):
      Mutations of the Drosophila melanogaster insulin/IGF signaling system slow aging, while also affecting growth and reproduction. To understand this pleiotropy, we produced an allelic series of single codon substitutions in the Drosophila insulin receptor, InR. We generated InR substitutions using homologous recombination and related each to emerging models of receptor tyrosine kinase structure and function. Three mutations when combined as trans-heterozygotes extended lifespan while retarding growth and fecundity. These genotypes reduced insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation, suggesting they impede kinase catalytic domain function. Among these genotypes, longevity was negatively correlated with egg production, consistent with life-history trade-off theory. In contrast, one mutation (InR353) was located in the kinase insert domain, a poorly characterized element found in all receptor tyrosine kinases. Remarkably, wild-type heterozygotes with InR353 robustly extended lifespan without affecting growth or reproduction and retained capacity to fully phosphorylate Akt. The Drosophila insulin receptor kinase insert domain contains a previously unrecognized SH2 binding motif. We propose the kinase insert domain interacts with SH2-associated adapter proteins to affect aging through mechanisms that retain insulin sensitivity and are independent of reproduction.
    Keywords:  Drosophila; aging; insulin receptor; kinase insert domain; longevity; reproduction
  19. Cell Rep. 2021 Mar 16. pii: S2211-1247(21)00135-2. [Epub ahead of print]34(11): 108821
      Loss of integrin-mediated attachment to extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins can trigger a variety of cellular changes that affect cell viability. Foremost among these is the activation of anoikis, caspase-mediated cell death induced by ECM detachment. In addition, loss of ECM attachment causes profound alterations in cellular metabolism, which can lead to anoikis-independent cell death. Here, we describe a surprising role for serum and glucocorticoid kinase-1 (SGK1) in the promotion of energy production when cells are detached. Our data demonstrate that SGK1 activation is necessary and sufficient for ATP generation during ECM detachment and anchorage-independent growth. More specifically, SGK1 promotes a substantial elevation in glucose uptake because of elevated GLUT1 transcription. In addition, carbon flux into the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP) is necessary to accommodate elevated glucose uptake and PPP-mediated glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate (G3P) is necessary for ATP production. Thus, our data show SGK1 as master regulator of glucose metabolism and cell survival during ECM-detached conditions.
    Keywords:  SGK1; anoikis; glucose metabolism; pentose phosphate pathway; signal transduction