bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2021‒07‒25
fourteen papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen
University College London Cancer Institute

  1. Med Clin (Barc). 2021 Jul 16. pii: S0025-7753(21)00300-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      The overgrowth syndromes related to phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase (PI3K) are grouped under the concept of PROS (PIK3CA-related overgrowth spectrum). It is a heterogeneous group of diseases, considered a rare disease (ORPHA: 530313), which combines the presence of vascular malformations with segmental overgrowth of some parts of the body. All these diseases are caused by mutations in the gene that encodes for the alpha subunit of PI3K. These mutations are somatic and take place during the embryonic stage. Depending on the stage of embryonic development and the affected germ layers, the phenotype will be very different, from syndromes with extensive involvement to isolated forms. Although there are clinical criteria, identification of the mutation by biopsy, although complex, confirms the diagnosis. The objective of the present study is to review the pathophysiological, clinical, diagnostic, and therapeutic aspects of PROS, in order to optimize its identification.
    Keywords:  Enfermedades minoritarias; Fosfatidilinositol-4,5-bifosfato 3-cinasa (PI3K); Malformaciones vasculares; PIK3CA-related overgrowth spectrum (PROS); Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate 3-kinase (PI3K); Rare diseases; Síndromes de sobrecrecimiento relacionados con PIK3CA (PROS); Vascular malformation
  2. Nature. 2021 Jul 21.
    Keywords:  Cancer; Cell biology; Metabolism
  3. Cancers (Basel). 2021 Jul 09. pii: 3445. [Epub ahead of print]13(14):
      Akt, also known as protein kinase B (PKB), belongs to the AGC family of protein kinases. It acts downstream of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and regulates diverse cellular processes, including cell proliferation, cell survival, metabolism, tumor growth and metastasis. The PI3K/Akt signaling pathway is frequently deregulated in breast cancer and plays an important role in the development and progression of breast cancer. There are three closely related members in the Akt family, namely Akt1(PKBα), Akt2(PKBβ) and Akt3(PKBγ). Although Akt isoforms share similar structures, they exhibit redundant, distinct as well as opposite functions. While the Akt signaling pathway is an important target for cancer therapy, an understanding of the isoform-specific function of Akt is critical to effectively target this pathway. However, our perception regarding how Akt isoforms contribute to the genesis and progression of breast cancer changes as we gain new knowledge. The purpose of this review article is to analyze current literatures on distinct functions of Akt isoforms in breast cancer.
    Keywords:  AGC kinase; Akt isoforms; autophagy; breast cancer initiation and progression; cell proliferation; metabolism; metastasis; regulation; senescence; tumorigenesis
  4. J Biol Chem. 2021 Jul 14. pii: S0021-9258(21)00769-9. [Epub ahead of print] 100968
      The tumor suppressor phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) negatively regulates the insulin signaling pathway. Germline PTEN pathogenic variants cause PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome (PHTS), associated with lipoma development in children. Adipose progenitor cells (APCs) lose their capacity to differentiate into adipocytes during continuous culture, while APCs from PHTS patients' lipomas retain their adipogenic potential over a prolonged period. It remains unclear which mechanisms trigger this aberrant adipose tissue growth. To investigate the role of PTEN in adipose tissue development we performed functional assays and RNA sequencing of control and PTEN knockdown APCs. Reduction of PTEN levels using siRNA or CRISPR led to enhanced proliferation and differentiation of APCs. FOXO1 transcriptional activity is known to be regulated by insulin signaling and FOXO1 was downregulated at the mRNA level while its inactivation through phosphorylation increased. FOXO1 phosphorylation initiates the expression of the lipogenesis activating transcription factor SREBP1. SREBP1 levels were higher after PTEN knockdown and may account for the observed enhanced adipogenesis. To validate this, we overexpressed constitutively active FOXO1 in PTEN CRISPR cells and found reduced adipogenesis, accompanied by SREBP1 downregulation. We observed that PTEN CRISPR cells showed less senescence compared to controls and the senescence marker CDKN1A (p21) was downregulated in PTEN knockdown cells. Cellular senescence was the most significantly enriched pathway found in RNA sequencing of PTEN knockdown vs. control cells. These results provide evidence that PTEN is involved in the regulation of APC proliferation, differentiation, and senescence, thereby contributing to aberrant adipose tissue growth in PHTS patients.
    Keywords:  Adipocyte; Adipogenesis; Cellular Senescence; Lipoma; Mesenchymal Stem Cells; PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome
  5. Cereb Cortex Commun. 2021 ;2(2): tgab036
      Protein kinase B (PKB/AKT) is a central kinase involved in many neurobiological processes. AKT is expressed in the brain as three isoforms, AKT1, AKT2, and AKT3. Previous studies suggest isoform-specific roles in neural function, but very few studies have examined AKT isoform expression at the cellular level. In this study, we use a combination of histology, immunostaining, and genetics to characterize cell-type-specific expression of AKT isoforms in human and mouse brains. In mice, we find that AKT1 is the most broadly expressed isoform, with expression in excitatory neurons and the sole detectable AKT isoform in gamma-aminobutyric acid ergic interneurons and microglia. By contrast, we find that AKT2 is the sole isoform expressed in astroglia and is not detected in other neural cell types. We find that AKT3 is expressed in excitatory neurons with AKT1 but shows greater expression levels in dendritic compartments than AKT1. We extend our analysis to human brain tissues and find similar results. Using genetic deletion approaches, we also find that the cellular determinants restricting AKT isoform expression to specific cell types remain intact under Akt deficiency conditions. Because AKT signaling is linked to numerous neurological disorders, a greater understanding of cell-specific isoform expression could improve treatment strategies involving AKT.
    Keywords:  amygdala; astrocytes; hippocampus; interneurons; microglia
  6. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2021 Jul 20.
      Insulin resistance, defined as a defect in insulin-mediated control of glucose metabolism in tissues - prominently in muscle, fat and liver - is one of the earliest manifestations of a constellation of human diseases that includes type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These diseases are typically associated with intertwined metabolic abnormalities, including obesity, hyperinsulinaemia, hyperglycaemia and hyperlipidaemia. Insulin resistance is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Recent genetic and biochemical studies suggest a key role for adipose tissue in the development of insulin resistance, potentially by releasing lipids and other circulating factors that promote insulin resistance in other organs. These extracellular factors perturb the intracellular concentration of a range of intermediates, including ceramide and other lipids, leading to defects in responsiveness of cells to insulin. Such intermediates may cause insulin resistance by inhibiting one or more of the proximal components in the signalling cascade downstream of insulin (insulin receptor, insulin receptor substrate (IRS) proteins or AKT). However, there is now evidence to support the view that insulin resistance is a heterogeneous disorder that may variably arise in a range of metabolic tissues and that the mechanism for this effect likely involves a unified insulin resistance pathway that affects a distal step in the insulin action pathway that is more closely linked to the terminal biological response. Identifying these targets is of major importance, as it will reveal potential new targets for treatments of diseases associated with insulin resistance.
  7. Cancer Discov. 2021 Jul 23. pii: candisc.0815.2020. [Epub ahead of print]
      Using a panel of cancer cell lines, we characterized a novel degrader of AKT, MS21. In mutant PI3K/PTEN pathway lines, AKT degradation was superior to AKT kinase inhibition for reducing cell growth and sustaining lower signaling over many days. AKT degradation but not kinase inhibition profoundly lowered Aurora kinase B (AURKB) protein, which is known to be essential for cell division, and induced G2/M arrest and hyperploidy. PI3K activated AKT phosphorylation of AURKB on threonine 73, which protected it from proteasome degradation. A mutant of AURKB (T73E) that mimics phosphorylation and blocks degradation rescued cells from growth inhibition. Degrader resistant lines were associated with low AKT phosphorylation, wild type PI3K/PTEN status, and mutation of KRAS/BRAF. Pan-cancer analysis identified that 19% of cases have PI3K/PTEN pathway mutation without RAS pathway mutation, suggesting that these cancer patients could benefit from AKT degrader therapy that leads to loss of AURKB.
  8. Cancer Discov. 2021 Jul 19. pii: candisc.0209.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Biliary tract cancer ranks among the most lethal human malignancies, representing an unmet clinical need. Its abysmal prognosis is tied to an increasing incidence and a fundamental lack of mechanistic knowledge regarding the molecular basis of the disease. Here, we show that the Pdx1-positive extrahepatic biliary epithelium is highly susceptible towards transformation by activated Pik3caH1047R, but refractory to oncogenic KrasG12D. Using genome-wide transposon screens and genetic loss-of-function experiments, we discover context-dependent genetic interactions that drive extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ECC) and show that PI3K-signaling output strength and repression of the tumor-suppressor p27Kip1 are critical context-specific determinants of tumor formation. This contrasts the pancreas, where oncogenic Kras in concert with Trp53-loss are key cancer-drivers. Notably, inactivation of p27Kip1 permits KrasG12D-driven ECC development. These studies provide a mechanistic link between PI3K-signaling, tissue-specific tumor suppressor barriers, and ECC pathogenesis, and present a novel genetic model of autochthonous ECC and genes driving this highly lethal tumor-subtype.
  9. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jul 27. pii: e2103518118. [Epub ahead of print]118(30):
      Insulin-signaling requires conformational change: whereas the free hormone and its receptor each adopt autoinhibited conformations, their binding leads to structural reorganization. To test the functional coupling between insulin's "hinge opening" and receptor activation, we inserted an artificial ligand-dependent switch into the insulin molecule. Ligand-binding disrupts an internal tether designed to stabilize the hormone's native closed and inactive conformation, thereby enabling productive receptor engagement. This scheme exploited a diol sensor (meta-fluoro-phenylboronic acid at GlyA1) and internal diol (3,4-dihydroxybenzoate at LysB28). The sensor recognizes monosaccharides (fructose > glucose). Studies of insulin-signaling in human hepatoma-derived cells (HepG2) demonstrated fructose-dependent receptor autophosphorylation leading to appropriate downstream signaling events, including a specific kinase cascade and metabolic gene regulation (gluconeogenesis and lipogenesis). Addition of glucose (an isomeric ligand with negligible sensor affinity) did not activate the hormone. Similarly, metabolite-regulated signaling was not observed in control studies of 1) an unmodified insulin analog or 2) an analog containing a diol sensor without internal tethering. Although secondary structure (as probed by circular dichroism) was unaffected by ligand-binding, heteronuclear NMR studies revealed subtle local and nonlocal monosaccharide-dependent changes in structure. Insertion of a synthetic switch into insulin has thus demonstrated coupling between hinge-opening and allosteric holoreceptor signaling. In addition to this foundational finding, our results provide proof of principle for design of a mechanism-based metabolite-responsive insulin. In particular, replacement of the present fructose sensor by an analogous glucose sensor may enable translational development of a "smart" insulin analog to mitigate hypoglycemic risk in diabetes therapy.
    Keywords:  diabetes mellitus; hormone–receptor recognition; insulin pharmacology; protein engineering; receptor tyrosine kinase
  10. Oncogene. 2021 Jul 23.
      Cancer is the most complex genetic disease known, with mutations implicated in more than 250 genes. However, it is still elusive which specific mutations found in human patients lead to tumorigenesis. Here we show that a combination of oncogenes that is characteristic of liver cancer (CTNNB1, TERT, MYC) induces senescence in human fibroblasts and primary hepatocytes. However, reprogramming fibroblasts to a liver progenitor fate, induced hepatocytes (iHeps), makes them sensitive to transformation by the same oncogenes. The transformed iHeps are highly proliferative, tumorigenic in nude mice, and bear gene expression signatures of liver cancer. These results show that tumorigenesis is triggered by a combination of three elements: the set of driver mutations, the cellular lineage, and the state of differentiation of the cells along the lineage. Our results provide direct support for the role of cell identity as a key determinant in transformation and establish a paradigm for studying the dynamic role of oncogenic drivers in human tumorigenesis.
  11. Nature. 2021 Jul 21.
      The mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) controls cell growth in response to amino acid levels1. Here we report SAR1B as a leucine sensor that regulates mTORC1 signalling in response to intracellular levels of leucine. Under conditions of leucine deficiency, SAR1B inhibits mTORC1 by physically targeting its activator GATOR2. In conditions of leucine sufficiency, SAR1B binds to leucine, undergoes a conformational change and dissociates from GATOR2, which results in mTORC1 activation. SAR1B-GATOR2-mTORC1 signalling is conserved in nematodes and has a role in the regulation of lifespan. Bioinformatic analysis reveals that SAR1B deficiency correlates with the development of lung cancer. The silencing of SAR1B and its paralogue SAR1A promotes mTORC1-dependent growth of lung tumours in mice. Our results reveal that SAR1B is a conserved leucine sensor that has a potential role in the development of lung cancer.
  12. Mol Cancer Res. 2021 Jul 20. pii: molcanres.0163.2021. [Epub ahead of print]
      Breast cancers are classified into five intrinsic subtypes and 10 integrative clusters based on gene expression patterns and genomic aberrations, respectively. Although the cell-of-origin, adaptive plasticity, and genomic aberrations shape dynamic transcriptomic landscape during cancer progression, how interplay between these three core elements governs obligatory steps for a productive cancer progression is unknown. Here, we used genetic ancestry-mapped immortalized breast epithelial cell lines generated from breast biopsies of healthy women that share gene expression profiles of luminal A, normal-like, and basal-like intrinsic subtypes of breast cancers and breast cancer relevant oncogenes to develop breast cancer progression model. Using flow cytometry, mammosphere growth, signaling pathway, DNA damage response, and in vivo tumorigenicity assays, we provide evidence that establishes cell-context dependent effects of oncogenes in conferring plasticity, self-renewal/differentiation, intratumor heterogeneity, and metastatic properties. By contrast, oncogenic aberrations, independent of cell-context, shaped response to DNA damage-inducing agents. Collectively, this study reveals how the same set of genomic aberration can have distinct effects on tumor characteristics based on cell-of-origin of tumor and highlights the need to utilize multiple "normal" epithelial cell types to decipher oncogenic properties of a gene of interest. Additionally, by creating multiple isogenic cell lines ranging from primary cells to metastatic variants, we provide resources to elucidate cell-intrinsic properties and cell-oncogene interactions at various stages of cancer progression. Implications: Our findings demonstrate that how an interplay between the normal cell type that encountered genomic aberrations and type of genomic aberration influences heterogeneity, self-renewal/differentiation and tumor properties including propensity for metastasis.
  13. Sci Signal. 2021 Jul 20. pii: eabc5884. [Epub ahead of print]14(692):
      Murine γδ17 cells, which are T cells that bear the γδ T cell receptor (TCRγδ) and secrete interleukin-17A (IL-17A), are generated in the thymus and are critical for various immune responses. Although strong TCRγδ signals are required for the development of interferon-γ (IFN-γ)-secreting γδ cells (γδIFN cells), the generation of γδ17 cells requires weaker TCRγδ signaling. Here, we demonstrated that constrained activation of the kinase Syk downstream of TCRγδ was required for the thymic development of γδ17 cells. Increasing or decreasing Syk activity by stimulating TCRγδ or inhibiting Syk, respectively, substantially reduced γδ17 cell numbers. This delimited Syk activity optimally engaged the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt signaling pathway, which maintained the expression of master regulators of the IL-17 program, RORγt and c-Maf. Inhibition of PI3K not only abrogated γδ17 cell development but also augmented the development of a distinct, previously undescribed subset of γδ T cells. These CD8+Ly6a+ γδ T cells had a type-I IFN gene expression signature and expanded in response to stimulation with IFN-β. Collectively, these studies elucidate how weaker TCRγδ signaling engages distinct signaling pathways to specify the γδ17 cell fate and identifies a role for type-I IFNs in γδ T cell development.
  14. Nat Commun. 2021 07 20. 12(1): 4405
      Stimulator of interferon genes (STING) promotes anti-tumour immunity by linking innate and adaptive immunity, but it remains unclear how intratumoural treatment with STING agonists yields anti-tumour effects. Here we demonstrate that intratumoural injection of the STING agonist cGAMP induces strong, rapid, and selective apoptosis of tumour endothelial cells (ECs) in implanted LLC tumour, melanoma and breast tumour, but not in spontaneous breast cancer and melanoma. In both implanted and spontaneous tumours, cGAMP greatly increases TNFα from tumour-associated myeloid cells. However, compared to spontaneous tumour ECs, implanted tumour ECs are more vulnerable to TNFα-TNFR1 signalling-mediated apoptosis, which promotes effective anti-tumour activity. The spontaneous tumour's refractoriness to cGAMP is abolished by co-treatment with AKT 1/2 inhibitor (AKTi). Combined treatment with cGAMP and AKTi induces extensive tumour EC apoptosis, leading to extensive tumour apoptosis and marked growth suppression of the spontaneous tumour. These findings propose an advanced avenue for treating primary tumours that are refractory to single STING agonist therapy.