bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2021‒06‒06
seven papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen
University College London Cancer Institute

  1. Dev Cell. 2021 May 28. pii: S1534-5807(21)00436-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      Cell death events continuously challenge epithelial barrier function yet are crucial to eliminate old or critically damaged cells. How such apoptotic events are spatio-temporally organized to maintain epithelial homeostasis remains unclear. We observe waves of extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and AKT serine/threonine kinase (Akt) activity pulses that originate from apoptotic cells and propagate radially to healthy surrounding cells. This requires epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) signaling. At the single-cell level, ERK/Akt waves act as spatial survival signals that locally protect cells in the vicinity of the epithelial injury from apoptosis for a period of 3-4 h. At the cell population level, ERK/Akt waves maintain epithelial homeostasis (EH) in response to mild or intense environmental insults. Disruption of this spatial signaling system results in the inability of a model epithelial tissue to ensure barrier function in response to environmental insults.
    Keywords:  Akt; EGFR; ERK; apoptosis; epithelial homeostasis; fluorescent biosensors; optogenetics; signaling dynamics; single-cell biology
  2. Cancers (Basel). 2021 May 07. pii: 2250. [Epub ahead of print]13(9):
      Over 50% of human papilloma positive head-and-neck cancer (HNCHPV+) patients harbor genomic-alterations in PIK3CA, leading to hyperactivation of the phosphatidylinositol-4, 5-bisphosphate 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway. Nevertheless, despite PI3K pathway activation in HNCHPV+ tumors, the anti-tumor activities of PI3K pathway inhibitors are moderate, mostly due to the emergence of resistance. Thus, for potent and long-term tumor management, drugs blocking resistance mechanisms should be combined with PI3K inhibitors. Here, we delineate the molecular mechanisms of the acquisition of resistance to two isoform-selective inhibitors of PI3K (isiPI3K), alpelisib (BYL719) and taselisib (GDC0032), in HNCHPV+ cell lines. By comparing the transcriptional landscape of isiPI3K-sensitive tumor cells with that of their corresponding isiPI3K-acquired-resistant tumor cells, we found upregulation of insulin growth factor 2 (IGF2) in the resistant cells. Mechanistically, we show that upon isiPI3K treatment, isiPI3K-sensitive tumor cells upregulate the expression of IGF2 to induce cell proliferation via the activation of the IGF1 receptor (IGF1R). Stimulating tumor cells with recombinant IGF2 limited isiPI3K efficacy and released treated cells from S phase arrest. Knocking-down IGF2 with siRNA, or blocking IGF1R with AEW541, resulted in superior anti-tumor activity of isiPI3K in vitro and ex vivo. In vivo, the combination of isiPI3K and IGF1R inhibitor induced stable disease in mice bearing either tumors generated by the HNCHPV+ UM-SCC47 cell line or HPV+ patient-derived xenografts. These findings indicate that IGF2 and the IGF2/IGF1R pathway may constitute new targets for combination therapies to enhance the efficacy of PI3K inhibitors for the treatment of HNCHPV+.
    Keywords:  HPV; IGF1R; IGF2; PI3K; drug combinations; head and neck cancer; therapy resistance
  3. Commun Biol. 2021 Jun 02. 4(1): 660
      The female mammary epithelium undergoes reorganization during development, pregnancy, and menopause, linking higher risk with breast cancer development. To characterize these periods of complex remodeling, here we report integrated 50 K mouse and 24 K human mammary epithelial cell atlases obtained by single-cell RNA sequencing, which covers most lifetime stages. Our results indicate a putative trajectory that originates from embryonic mammary stem cells which differentiates into three epithelial lineages (basal, luminal hormone-sensing, and luminal alveolar), presumably arising from unipotent progenitors in postnatal glands. The lineage-specific genes infer cells of origin of breast cancer using The Cancer Genome Atlas data and single-cell RNA sequencing of human breast cancer, as well as the association of gland reorganization to different breast cancer subtypes. This comprehensive mammary cell gene expression atlas ( ) presents insights into the impact of the internal and external stimuli on the mammary epithelium at an advanced resolution.
  4. Curr Opin Immunol. 2021 May 27. pii: S0952-7915(21)00055-8. [Epub ahead of print]72 146-157
      Activated PI3K-delta Syndrome (APDS), also called PI3K-delta activating mutation causing senescent T cells, lymphadenopathy, and immunodeficiency (PASLI), is an autosomal dominant disorder caused by inherited or de novo gain-of-function mutations in one of two genes encoding subunits of the phosphoinositide-3-kinase delta (PI3Kδ) complex. This largely leukocyte-restricted protein complex regulates cell growth, activation, proliferation, and survival. Patients who harbor these mutations have early onset immunodeficiency with recurrent infections, lymphadenopathy, and autoimmunity. The most common infection susceptibilities are sinopulmonary (encapsulated bacteria) and herpesviruses. Multiple defects in both innate and adaptive immune function are responsible for this phenotype. Apart from anti-microbial prophylaxis and immunoglobulin replacement, patients are treated with a variety of immunomodulatory agents and some have needed hematopoietic stem cell transplants. Here, we highlight the spectrum of infections, immune defects, and therapy options in this inborn error of immunity.
  5. Tissue Eng Part C Methods. 2021 Jun 03.
      Three-dimensional (3D) cell culture systems, such as tumor organoids and multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTS), have been developed in part as a result of major advances in tissue engineering and biofabrication techniques. 3D cell culture offers great capabilities in drug development, screening, testing, and precision medicine due to its physiological accuracy. However, since the inception of 3D systems, few methods have been reported to successfully analyze cell viability quantitatively within hydrogel constructs. Here, we describe and compare commercially available viability assays developed for two-dimensional (2D) applications for use in 3D constructs composed of organic, synthetic, or hybrid hydrogel formulations. We utilized Promegas' CellTiter-Glo®, CellTiter-Glo® 3D, and CellTiter 96® MTS Assay along with Thermo Fishers' PrestoBlue™ assay to determine if these assays can be used accurately in 3D systems. Compared with direct cell viability commonly used in 2D cell culture, our results show cellular health output inaccuracies among each assay in differing hydrogel formulations. Our results should inform researchers of potential errors when using cell viability measurements in 3D cultures and conclude that microscopic imaging should be used, in combination, for validation.
  6. PLoS Biol. 2021 Jun 01. 19(6): e3000797
      Tumor heterogeneity is a primary cause of treatment failure and acquired resistance in cancer patients. Even in cancers driven by a single mutated oncogene, variability in response to targeted therapies is well known. The existence of additional genomic alterations among tumor cells can only partially explain this variability. As such, nongenetic factors are increasingly seen as critical contributors to tumor relapse and acquired resistance in cancer. Here, we show that both genetic and nongenetic factors contribute to targeted drug response variability in an experimental model of tumor heterogeneity. We observe significant variability to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibition among and within multiple versions and clonal sublines of PC9, a commonly used EGFR mutant nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell line. We resolve genetic, epigenetic, and stochastic components of this variability using a theoretical framework in which distinct genetic states give rise to multiple epigenetic "basins of attraction," across which cells can transition driven by stochastic noise. Using mutational impact analysis, single-cell differential gene expression, and correlations among Gene Ontology (GO) terms to connect genomics to transcriptomics, we establish a baseline for genetic differences driving drug response variability among PC9 cell line versions. Applying the same approach to clonal sublines, we conclude that drug response variability in all but one of the sublines is due to epigenetic differences; in the other, it is due to genetic alterations. Finally, using a clonal drug response assay together with stochastic simulations, we attribute subclonal drug response variability within sublines to stochastic cell fate decisions and confirm that one subline likely contains genetic resistance mutations that emerged in the absence of drug treatment.
  7. PLoS Biol. 2021 Jun 02. 19(6): e3001281
      Nutrient-responsive protein kinases control the balance between anabolic growth and catabolic processes such as autophagy. Aberrant regulation of these kinases is a major cause of human disease. We report here that the vertebrate nonreceptor tyrosine kinase Src-related kinase lacking C-terminal regulatory tyrosine and N-terminal myristylation sites (SRMS) inhibits autophagy and promotes growth in a nutrient-responsive manner. Under nutrient-replete conditions, SRMS phosphorylates the PHLPP scaffold FK506-binding protein 51 (FKBP51), disrupts the FKBP51-PHLPP complex, and promotes FKBP51 degradation through the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. This prevents PHLPP-mediated dephosphorylation of AKT, causing sustained AKT activation that promotes growth and inhibits autophagy. SRMS is amplified and overexpressed in human cancers where it drives unrestrained AKT signaling in a kinase-dependent manner. SRMS kinase inhibition activates autophagy, inhibits cancer growth, and can be accomplished using the FDA-approved tyrosine kinase inhibitor ibrutinib. This illuminates SRMS as a targetable vulnerability in human cancers and as a new target for pharmacological induction of autophagy in vertebrates.