bims-pideca Biomed News
on Class IA PI3K signalling in development and cancer
Issue of 2021‒09‒12
nineteen papers selected by
Ralitsa Radostinova Madsen
University College London Cancer Institute

  1. Breast Cancer (Auckl). 2021 ;15 11782234211037421
      Purpose: Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS) is a rare but life-threatening phenomenon that occurs mainly in patients with aggressive hematologic or highly chemotherapy sensitive solid tumors such as high-grade neuroendocrine carcinoma or testicular cancer. Tumor lysis syndrome is exceedingly rare in hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer. Furthermore, TLS following treatment with alpelisib, a novel phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor used to treat PIK3CA-mutated (gene encoding p110α subunit of PI3K), hormone receptor positive advanced breast cancer, has never been described in patients with nonhematologic malignancies.Methods: In the following case, we present a patient with hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, PIK3CA-mutated metastatic breast cancer who developed TLS 12 days after starting fulvestrant and alpelisib.
    Results: Patient was promptly treated with improvement in her renal function to baseline without requiring renal replacement therapy. Alpelisib was resumed at a reduced dose with no further complications.
    Conclusion: Through this case, we discuss the potential complications of TLS and the importance of prompt recognition and treatment.
    Keywords:  Alpelisib; metastatic breast cancer (MBC); oncology; tumor lysis syndrome (TLS)
  2. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Sep 14. pii: e2101751118. [Epub ahead of print]118(37):
      The phosphoinositide 3-kinase regulatory subunit p85α is a key regulator of kinase signaling and is frequently mutated in cancers. In the present study, we showed that in addition to weakening the inhibitory interaction between p85α and p110α, a group of driver mutations in the p85α N-terminal SH2 domain activated EGFR, HER2, HER3, c-Met, and IGF-1R in a p110α-independent manner. Cancer cells expressing these mutations exhibited the activation of p110α and the AKT pathway. Interestingly, the activation of EGFR, HER2, and c-Met was attributed to the ability of driver mutations to inhibit HER3 ubiquitination and degradation. The resulting increase in HER3 protein levels promoted its heterodimerization with EGFR, HER2, and c-Met, as well as the allosteric activation of these dimerized partners; however, HER3 silencing abolished this transactivation. Accordingly, inhibitors of either AKT or the HER family reduced the oncogenicity of driver mutations. The combination of these inhibitors resulted in marked synergy. Taken together, our findings provide mechanistic insights and suggest therapeutic strategies targeting a class of recurrent p85α mutations.
    Keywords:  mutation; p85α; receptor tyrosine kinases
  3. Nat Protoc. 2021 Sep 08.
      Organoids are biomimetic tissue models comprising multiple cell types and cell states. Post-translational modification (PTM) signaling networks control cellular phenotypes and are frequently dysregulated in diseases such as cancer. Although signaling networks vary across cell types, there are limited techniques to study cell type-specific PTMs in heterocellular organoids. Here, we present a multiplexed mass cytometry (MC) protocol for single-cell analysis of PTM signaling and cell states in organoids and organoids co-cultured with fibroblasts and leukocytes. We describe how thiol-reactive organoid barcoding in situ (TOBis) enables 35-plex and 126-plex single-cell comparison of organoid cultures and provide a cytometry by time of flight (CyTOF) signaling analysis pipeline (CyGNAL) for computing cell type-specific PTM signaling networks. The TOBis MC protocol takes ~3 d from organoid fixation to data acquisition and can generate single-cell data for >40 antibodies from millions of cells across 126 organoid cultures in a single MC run.
  4. STAR Protoc. 2021 Sep 17. 2(3): 100765
      3D cultures of mammary epithelial cells purified from murine models provide a unique resource to study genetically defined breast cancer and response to targeted therapies. Here, we describe step-by-step experimental procedures for the successful establishment of murine mammary organoid lines isolated from mammary glands or mammary tumors driven by mutations in components of the PI3K pathway. These detailed protocols also include procedures to perform assays that can be adopted to screen response to drug treatments and to inform better therapies. For details on potential applications and use of this protocol, please refer to Yip et al. (2020).
    Keywords:  Cancer; Cell culture; Cell isolation; Cell-based Assays; Organoids
  5. J Biol Chem. 2021 Sep 01. pii: S0021-9258(21)00963-7. [Epub ahead of print] 101161
      Cell migration is an essential physiological process and aberrant migration of epithelial cells underlies many pathological conditions. However, the molecular mechanisms governing cell migration are not fully understood. We report here that growth factor-induced epithelial cell migration is critically dependent on the crosstalk of two molecular switches, namely phosphorylation-switch (P-switch) and transcriptional switch (T-switch). P-switch refers to dynamic interactions of DLC1 (deleted in liver cancer 1) and PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase) with TNS3 (tensin-3), PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog), CTEN (C-terminal tension), and VAV2 (vav guanine nucleotide exchange factor 2) that are dictated by MEK1/2-ERK1/2-dependent phosphorylation of TNS3, PTEN, and VAV2. Phosphorylation of TNS3 and PTEN on specific Thr residues led to the switch of DLC1-TNS3 and PI3K-PTEN complexes to DLC1-PTEN and PI3K-TNS3 complexes whereas Ser phosphorylation of VAV2 promotes the transition of the PI3K-TNS3/PTEN complexes to PI3K-VAV2 complex. T-switch denotes an increase in cten transcription/expression regulated by both ERK1/2 and STAT3 (Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription) via IL-6-JAK-STAT3 signaling pathway. We have found that, while the P-switch is indispensable for both the initiation and continuation of cell migration induced by growth factors, the T-switch is only required to sustain cell migration. The interplay of the two switches facilitated by the IL6-JAK-STAT3 pathway governs a sequence of dynamic protein-protein interactions for sustained cell migration. That a similar mechanism is employed by both normal and tumorigenic epithelial cells to drive their respective migration suggests that the P-switch and T-switch are general regulators of epithelial cell migration and potential therapeutic targets.
    Keywords:  Cell migration; DLC1; ERK; IL-6; PI3K; PTEN; STAT3; VAV2; phosphorylation
  6. Front Oncol. 2021 ;11 726785
      Alpelisib is a PIK3a inhibitor approved for the treatment of metastatic ER+ breast cancer in combination with fulvestrant. Although rash is a common side effect of this medication, we present the first case of drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS) upon initial exposure to alpelisib. Here we describe the clinical-pathological findings and management of our patient with alpelisib-induced life-threatening DRESS syndrome. The goal of this case report is to highlight association of alpelisib with DRESS syndrome, in clinical practice, so that alpelisib can be immediately stopped and treatment for this serious condition promptly initiated.
    Keywords:  DRESS; PI3K inhibitor therapy; alpelisib; breast cancer; drug rash
  7. PLoS Genet. 2021 Sep 07. 17(9): e1009774
      Gene variant discovery is becoming routine, but it remains difficult to usefully interpret the functional consequence or disease relevance of most variants. To fill this interpretation gap, experimental assays of variant function are becoming common place. Yet, it remains challenging to make these assays reproducible, scalable to high numbers of variants, and capable of assessing defined gene-disease mechanism for clinical interpretation aligned to the ClinGen Sequence Variant Interpretation (SVI) Working Group guidelines for 'well-established assays'. Drosophila melanogaster offers great potential as an assay platform, but was untested for high numbers of human variants adherent to these guidelines. Here, we wished to test the utility of Drosophila as a platform for scalable well-established assays. We took a genetic interaction approach to test the function of ~100 human PTEN variants in cancer-relevant suppression of PI3K/AKT signaling in cellular growth and proliferation. We validated the assay using biochemically characterized PTEN mutants as well as 23 total known pathogenic and benign PTEN variants, all of which the assay correctly assigned into predicted functional categories. Additionally, function calls for these variants correlated very well with our recent published data from a human cell line. Finally, using these pathogenic and benign variants to calibrate the assay, we could set readout thresholds for clinical interpretation of the pathogenicity of 70 other PTEN variants. Overall, we demonstrate that Drosophila offers a powerful assay platform for clinical variant interpretation, that can be used in conjunction with other well-established assays, to increase confidence in the accurate assessment of variant function and pathogenicity.
  8. J Clin Invest. 2021 Sep 09. pii: 145734. [Epub ahead of print]
      Formation of nitric oxide (NO) by the endothelial NO-synthase (eNOS) is a central process in the homeostatic regulation of vascular functions including blood pressure regulation and fluid shear stress exerted by the flowing blood is a main stimulus of eNOS activity. Previous work has identified several mechanosensing and -transducing processes in endothelial cells, which mediate this process and result in the stimulation of eNOS activity through phosphorylation of the enzyme via various kinases including AKT. How the initial mechanosensing and signaling processes are linked to eNOS phosphorylation is unclear. In human endothelial cells, we demonstrated that protein kinase N2 (PKN2), which is activated by flow through the mechanosensitive cation channel Piezo1 and Gq/G11-mediated signaling, as well as Ca2+ and PDK1, plays a pivotal role in this process. Active PKN2 promoted phosphorylation of human eNOS at serine 1177 and at a newly identified site, serine 1179. These phosphorylation events additively led to increased eNOS activity. PKN2-mediated eNOS phosphorylation at serine 1177 involved phosphorylation of AKT synergistically with mTORC2-mediated AKT phosphorylation while active PKN2 directly phosphorylated human eNOS at serine 1179. Mice with induced endothelium-specific deficiency of PKN2 showed strongly reduced flow-induced vasodilation and developed arterial hypertension accompanied by reduced eNOS activation. These results uncover a central mechanism that couples upstream mechanosignaling processes in endothelial cells to the regulation of eNOS-mediated NO formation, vascular tone and blood pressure.
    Keywords:  Cell Biology; Endothelial cells; Hypertension; Nitric oxide; Vascular Biology
  9. Hum Mol Genet. 2021 Sep 11. pii: ddab270. [Epub ahead of print]
      Germline activating mutations in HRAS cause Costello Syndrome (CS), a cancer prone multisystem disorder characterized by reduced postnatal growth. In CS, poor weight gain and growth are not caused by low caloric intake. Here we show that constitutive plasma membrane translocation and activation of the GLUT4 glucose transporter, via ROS-dependent AMPKα and p38 hyperactivation, occurs in CS, resulting in accelerated glycolysis, and increased fatty acid synthesis and storage as lipid droplets in primary fibroblasts. An accelerated autophagic flux was also identified as contributing to the increased energetic expenditure in CS. Concomitant inhibition of p38 and PI3K signaling by wortmannin was able to rescue both the dysregulated glucose intake and accelerated autophagic flux. Our findings provide a mechanistic link between upregulated HRAS function, defective growth and increased resting energetic expenditure in CS, and document that targeting p38 and PI3K signaling is able to revert this metabolic dysfunction.
  10. Aging Cell. 2021 Sep 09. e13472
      Metabolic dysfunction and protein aggregation are common characteristics that occur in age-related neurodegenerative disease. However, the mechanisms underlying these abnormalities remain poorly understood. We have found that mutations in the gene encoding presenilin in Caenorhabditis elegans, sel-12, results in elevated mitochondrial activity that drives oxidative stress and neuronal dysfunction. Mutations in the human presenilin genes are the primary cause of familial Alzheimer's disease. Here, we demonstrate that loss of SEL-12/presenilin results in the hyperactivation of the mTORC1 pathway. This hyperactivation is caused by elevated mitochondrial calcium influx and, likely, the associated increase in mitochondrial activity. Reducing mTORC1 activity improves proteostasis defects and neurodegenerative phenotypes associated with loss of SEL-12 function. Consistent with high mTORC1 activity, we find that SEL-12 loss reduces autophagosome formation, and this reduction is prevented by limiting mitochondrial calcium uptake. Moreover, the improvements of proteostasis and neuronal defects in sel-12 mutants due to mTORC1 inhibition require the induction of autophagy. These results indicate that mTORC1 hyperactivation exacerbates the defects in proteostasis and neuronal function in sel-12 mutants and demonstrate a critical role of presenilin in promoting neuronal health.
    Keywords:   Caenorhabditis elegans ; Alzheimer; aging; calcium; mTORC1; mitochondria; presenilin
  11. Nature. 2021 09;597(7875): 196-205
      The Human Developmental Cell Atlas (HDCA) initiative, which is part of the Human Cell Atlas, aims to create a comprehensive reference map of cells during development. This will be critical to understanding normal organogenesis, the effect of mutations, environmental factors and infectious agents on human development, congenital and childhood disorders, and the cellular basis of ageing, cancer and regenerative medicine. Here we outline the HDCA initiative and the challenges of mapping and modelling human development using state-of-the-art technologies to create a reference atlas across gestation. Similar to the Human Genome Project, the HDCA will integrate the output from a growing community of scientists who are mapping human development into a unified atlas. We describe the early milestones that have been achieved and the use of human stem-cell-derived cultures, organoids and animal models to inform the HDCA, especially for prenatal tissues that are hard to acquire. Finally, we provide a roadmap towards a complete atlas of human development.
  12. N Engl J Med. 2021 09 09. 385(11): 996
      BACKGROUND: Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are common sporadic and inherited vascular malformations of the central nervous system. Although familial CCMs are linked to loss-of-function mutations in KRIT1 (CCM1), CCM2, or PDCD10 (CCM3), the genetic cause of sporadic CCMs, representing 80% of cases, remains incompletely understood.METHODS: We developed two mouse models harboring mutations identified in human meningiomas with the use of the prostaglandin D2 synthase (PGDS) promoter. We performed targeted DNA sequencing of surgically resected CCMs from patients and confirmed our findings by droplet digital polymerase-chain-reaction analysis.
    RESULTS: We found that in mice expressing one of two common genetic drivers of meningioma - Pik3ca H1047R or AKT1 E17K - in PGDS-positive cells, a spectrum of typical CCMs develops (in 22% and 11% of the mice, respectively) instead of meningiomas, which prompted us to analyze tissue samples from sporadic CCMs from 88 patients. We detected somatic activating PIK3CA and AKT1 mutations in 39% and 1%, respectively, of lesion tissue from the patients. Only 10% of lesions harbored mutations in the CCM genes. We analyzed lesions induced by the activating mutations Pik3ca H1074R and AKT1 E17K in mice and identified the PGDS-expressing pericyte as the probable cell of origin.
    CONCLUSIONS: In tissue samples from sporadic CCMs, mutations in PIK3CA were represented to a greater extent than mutations in any other gene. The contribution of somatic mutations in the genes that cause familial CCMs was comparatively small. (Funded by the Fondation ARC pour la Recherche contre le Cancer and others.).
  13. J Clin Invest. 2021 Sep 10. pii: 151818. [Epub ahead of print]
      Insulin resistance is present in one-quarter of the general population, predisposing to a wide-range of diseases. Our aim was to identify cell-intrinsic determinants of insulin resistance in this population using IPS cell-derived myoblasts (iMyos). We found that these cells exhibited a large network of altered protein phosphorylation in vitro. Integrating these data with data from type-2-diabetic iMyos revealed critical sites of conserved altered phosphorylation in IRS-1, AKT, mTOR and TBC1D1, in addition to changes in protein phosphorylation involved in Rho/Rac signaling, chromatin organization and RNA processing. There were also striking differences in the phosphoproteome in cells from males versus females. These sex-specific and insulin resistance defects were linked to functional differences in downstream actions. Thus, there are cell-autonomous signaling alterations associated with insulin resistance within the general population and important differences in males and females, many of which are shared with diabetes, and contribute to differences in physiology and disease.
    Keywords:  Insulin signaling; Metabolism; Stem cells; iPS cells
  14. Nat Commun. 2021 09 06. 12(1): 5256
      Tissue repair and healing remain among the most complicated processes that occur during postnatal life. Humans and other large organisms heal by forming fibrotic scar tissue with diminished function, while smaller organisms respond with scarless tissue regeneration and functional restoration. Well-established scaling principles reveal that organism size exponentially correlates with peak tissue forces during movement, and evolutionary responses have compensated by strengthening organ-level mechanical properties. How these adaptations may affect tissue injury has not been previously examined in large animals and humans. Here, we show that blocking mechanotransduction signaling through the focal adhesion kinase pathway in large animals significantly accelerates wound healing and enhances regeneration of skin with secondary structures such as hair follicles. In human cells, we demonstrate that mechanical forces shift fibroblasts toward pro-fibrotic phenotypes driven by ERK-YAP activation, leading to myofibroblast differentiation and excessive collagen production. Disruption of mechanical signaling specifically abrogates these responses and instead promotes regenerative fibroblast clusters characterized by AKT-EGR1.
  15. Trends Cancer. 2021 Sep 01. pii: S2405-8033(21)00161-8. [Epub ahead of print]
      MYC oncoprotein promotes cell proliferation and serves as the key driver in many human cancers; therefore, considerable effort has been expended to develop reliable pharmacological methods to suppress its expression or function. Despite impressive progress, MYC-targeting drugs have not reached the clinic. Recent advances suggest that within a limited expression range unique to each tumor, MYC oncoprotein can have a paradoxical, proapoptotic function. Here we introduce a counterintuitive idea that modestly and transiently elevating MYC levels could aid chemotherapy-induced apoptosis and thus benefit the patients as much, if not more than MYC inhibition.
    Keywords:  MYC; apoptosis, chemotherapy; oncogene addiction
  16. Front Pediatr. 2021 ;9 703613
      RASopathies and mTORopathies are groups of genetic syndromes associated with increased activation of the RAS-MAPK or the PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway, resulting in altered cell proliferation during embryonic and postnatal development. The RAS-MAPK and the PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathways are connected to each other and play a crucial role in adaptive immunity. However, with the exception of Activated PI3K delta syndrome (APDS), immune function has not been deeply studied in these disorders. We collected clinical and immunophenotypic data of a cohort of patients with RASopathies and mTORopathies. Overall, we enrolled 47 patients (22 females, 25 males, age 2-40 years): 33 with neurofibromatosis type 1, 11 Noonan syndrome and 3 Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome. 8 patients reported a history of invasive infections requiring hospitalization and intravenous antibiotic therapy. Only 3 patients reported a history of unusual, difficult-to-treat or deep-seated infection. Adenotonsillectomy was performed in 11 patients (24%). However, in most cases (83%) patients' parents did not perceive their child as more prone to infections than their peers. Lymphocyte subpopulations were analyzed in 37 of the 47 patients (16 female, 21 males, age 1-40 years). Among the studied lymphocyte subsets, the only consistent alteration regarded an increased percentage of immature B cells (recent bone marrow emigrants) in 34 out of 37 (91,9%) patients, and an increased percentage of double negative T cells in 9 patients. In conclusion, although borderline immune abnormalities were present in a significant proportion of subjects and adenotonsillectomy was performed more frequently than expected for the general population, no major immune disturbance was found in this cohort of patients.
    Keywords:  RASopathies; Ras/MAPK; flow cytometry; immune dysregulation; mTORopathies; recent bone marrow emigrants
  17. Nat Genet. 2021 Sep;53(9): 1334-1347
      Breast cancers are complex cellular ecosystems where heterotypic interactions play central roles in disease progression and response to therapy. However, our knowledge of their cellular composition and organization is limited. Here we present a single-cell and spatially resolved transcriptomics analysis of human breast cancers. We developed a single-cell method of intrinsic subtype classification (SCSubtype) to reveal recurrent neoplastic cell heterogeneity. Immunophenotyping using cellular indexing of transcriptomes and epitopes by sequencing (CITE-seq) provides high-resolution immune profiles, including new PD-L1/PD-L2+ macrophage populations associated with clinical outcome. Mesenchymal cells displayed diverse functions and cell-surface protein expression through differentiation within three major lineages. Stromal-immune niches were spatially organized in tumors, offering insights into antitumor immune regulation. Using single-cell signatures, we deconvoluted large breast cancer cohorts to stratify them into nine clusters, termed 'ecotypes', with unique cellular compositions and clinical outcomes. This study provides a comprehensive transcriptional atlas of the cellular architecture of breast cancer.
  18. Nat Commun. 2021 Sep 06. 12(1): 5297
      The protein kinase Akt plays a pivotal role in cellular processes. However, its isoforms' distinct functions have not been resolved to date, mainly due to the lack of suitable biochemical and cellular tools. Against this background, we present the development of an isoform-dependent Ba/F3 model system to translate biochemical results on isoform specificity to the cellular level. Our cellular model system complemented by protein X-ray crystallography and structure-based ligand design results in covalent-allosteric Akt inhibitors with unique selectivity profiles. In a first proof-of-concept, the developed molecules allow studies on isoform-selective effects of Akt inhibition in cancer cells. Thus, this study will pave the way to resolve isoform-selective roles in health and disease and foster the development of next-generation therapeutics with superior on-target properties.
  19. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2021 Sep 10.
      Cancer is a group of diseases in which cells divide continuously and excessively. Cell division is tightly regulated by multiple evolutionarily conserved cell cycle control mechanisms, to ensure the production of two genetically identical cells. Cell cycle checkpoints operate as DNA surveillance mechanisms that prevent the accumulation and propagation of genetic errors during cell division. Checkpoints can delay cell cycle progression or, in response to irreparable DNA damage, induce cell cycle exit or cell death. Cancer-associated mutations that perturb cell cycle control allow continuous cell division chiefly by compromising the ability of cells to exit the cell cycle. Continuous rounds of division, however, create increased reliance on other cell cycle control mechanisms to prevent catastrophic levels of damage and maintain cell viability. New detailed insights into cell cycle control mechanisms and their role in cancer reveal how these dependencies can be best exploited in cancer treatment.