bims-pimaco Biomed News
on PI3K and MAPK signalling in colorectal cancer
Issue of 2022‒06‒12
nine papers selected by
Lucas B. Zeiger
Beatson Institute for Cancer Research

  1. Cancer Discov. 2022 Jun 10. OF1
      The RAS effector ARAF competes with NF1 for binding to RAS affecting RAS activation.
  2. Eur J Med Chem. 2022 May 28. pii: S0223-5234(22)00400-7. [Epub ahead of print]238 114498
      Mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a highly conserved protein kinase acting as a central regulator of cell functions. The kinase forms two distinct mTOR complexes termed as mTORC1 and mTORC2. Dysregulation of mTOR activity is associated with various pathological conditions. Inhibition of overactivated mTOR represent a rational approach in the treatment of numerous human diseases. Rapamycin is a potent natural inhibitor of mTOR exhibiting significant antitumor and immunosuppressive activity. Derivatization of rapamycin provided rapalogs, the first generation of mTOR inhibitors that selectively inhibit mTORC1 activity. Further interest of research community resulted in creation of the second generation of mTOR inhibitors involving both, mTOR kinase inhibitors and dual phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/mTOR inhibitors. Recently, combining advances of first and second generation of mTOR inhibitors yielded in the third generation of inhibitors termed as rapalinks. Nowadays, novel inhibitors belonging to all of the three generations are still under development. These inhibitors help us better to understand role of mTOR in mTOR signaling pathway as well as in diverse human diseases. In this review, we summarize recent reported mTOR inhibitors or methods of use thereof in the treatment of various diseases.
    Keywords:  Dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitors; PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway; Rapalinks; Rapalogs; Rapamycin; mTOR inhibitor; mTOR kinase inhibitors
  3. Front Oncol. 2022 ;12 840241
      Treatment resistance is observed in all advanced cancers. Colorectal cancer (CRC) presenting as colorectal adenocarcinoma (COAD) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Multimodality treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies with selective utilization of immunotherapy and radiation therapy. Despite the early success of anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (anti-EGFR) therapy, treatment resistance is common and often driven by mutations in APC, KRAS, RAF, and PI3K/mTOR and positive feedback between activated KRAS and WNT effectors. Challenges in the direct targeting of WNT regulators and KRAS have caused alternative actionable targets to gain recent attention. Utilizing an unbiased drug screen, we identified combinatorial targeting of DDR1/BCR-ABL signaling axis with small-molecule inhibitors of EGFR-ERBB2 to be potentially cytotoxic against multicellular spheroids obtained from WNT-activated and KRAS-mutant COAD lines (HCT116, DLD1, and SW480) independent of their KRAS mutation type. Based on the data-driven approach using available patient datasets (The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA)), we constructed transcriptomic correlations between gene DDR1, with an expression of genes for EGFR, ERBB2-4, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway intermediates, BCR, and ABL and genes for cancer stem cell reactivation, cell polarity, and adhesion; we identified a positive association of DDR1 with EGFR, ERBB2, BRAF, SOX9, and VANGL2 in Pan-Cancer. The evaluation of the pathway network using the STRING database and Pathway Commons database revealed DDR1 protein to relay its signaling via adaptor proteins (SHC1, GRB2, and SOS1) and BCR axis to contribute to the KRAS-PI3K-AKT signaling cascade, which was confirmed by Western blotting. We further confirmed the cytotoxic potential of our lead combination involving EGFR/ERBB2 inhibitor (lapatinib) with DDR1/BCR-ABL inhibitor (nilotinib) in radioresistant spheroids of HCT116 (COAD) and, in an additional devastating primary cancer model, glioblastoma (GBM). GBMs overexpress DDR1 and share some common genomic features with COAD like EGFR amplification and WNT activation. Moreover, genetic alterations in genes like NF1 make GBMs have an intrinsically high KRAS activity. We show the combination of nilotinib plus lapatinib to exhibit more potent cytotoxic efficacy than either of the drugs administered alone in tumoroids of patient-derived recurrent GBMs. Collectively, our findings suggest that combinatorial targeting of DDR1/BCR-ABL with EGFR-ERBB2 signaling may offer a therapeutic strategy against stem-like KRAS-driven chemoradioresistant tumors of COAD and GBM, widening the window for its applications in mainstream cancer therapeutics.
    Keywords:  BCR-ABL1; COAD; DDR1; EGFR-ERBB2; GBM; KRAS; Wnt/b-catenin; chemoradioresistance
  4. Nat Commun. 2022 Jun 08. 13(1): 3181
      The RNF43_p.G659fs mutation occurs frequently in colorectal cancer, but its function remains poorly understood and there are no specific therapies directed against this alteration. In this study, we find that RNF43_p.G659fs promotes cell growth independent of Wnt signaling. We perform a drug repurposing library screen and discover that cells with RNF43_p.G659 mutations are selectively killed by inhibition of PI3K signaling. PI3K/mTOR inhibitors yield promising antitumor activity in RNF43659mut isogenic cell lines and xenograft models, as well as in patient-derived organoids harboring RNF43_p.G659fs mutations. We find that RNF43659mut binds p85 leading to increased PI3K signaling through p85 ubiquitination and degradation. Additionally, RNA-sequencing of RNF43659mut isogenic cells reveals decreased interferon response gene expression, that is reversed by PI3K/mTOR inhibition, suggesting that RNF43659mut may alter tumor immunity. Our findings suggest a therapeutic application for PI3K/mTOR inhibitors in treating RNF43_p.G659fs mutant cancers.
  5. ESMO Open. 2022 Jun 07. pii: S2059-7029(22)00132-6. [Epub ahead of print]7(3): 100512
      BACKGROUND: Few prospective studies have used liquid biopsy testing in RAS-mutant metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC), and its clinical significance remains unknown. Therefore, this study aimed to carry out a biomarker analysis by liquid biopsy using updated data of the phase II trial of FOLFOXIRI plus bevacizumab as first-line chemotherapy for RAS-mutant mCRC.MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 64 patients who received modified FOLFOXIRI regimen (irinotecan 150 mg/m2, oxaliplatin 85 mg/m2, levofolinate 200 mg/m2, and fluorouracil 2400 mg/m2) plus bevacizumab biweekly were enrolled. The primary endpoint was the objective response rate (ORR). Plasma samples were collected at pre-treatment, 8 weeks after treatment, and progression in participants included in the biomarker study. The levels of circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) and specific KRAS and NRAS variants were evaluated using real-time PCR assays.
    RESULTS: There were 62 patients (median age: 62.5 years, 92% performance status 0, 27% right side) who were assessable for efficacy and 51 for biomarker analysis. ORR was 75.8% (95% confidence interval 65.1% to 86.5%). The median progression-free survival was 12.1 months, and the median overall survival (OS) was 30.2 months. In 78% of patients, RAS mutations disappeared in the ctDNA at 8 weeks after treatment; these patients tended to have better outcomes than those with RAS mutations. Interestingly, RAS mutations remained undetectable during progression in 62% of patients. Survival analysis indicated that the median OS from progression was significantly longer in patients with RAS mutation clearance than in those with RAS mutation in the ctDNA at disease progression (15.1 versus 7.3 months, hazard ratio: 0.21, P = 0.0046).
    CONCLUSIONS: Our biomarker study demonstrated no RAS mutations in ctDNA at disease progression in 62% of patients with RAS-mutant mCRC. Both OS and post-progression survival were better in patients with clearance of RAS mutations in ctDNA after triplet-based chemotherapy.
    Keywords:  FOLFOXIRI plus bevacizumab; RAS mutation; colorectal cancer; liquid biopsy
  6. Clin Cancer Res. 2022 Jun 07. pii: clincanres.4272.2021-12-1 23:41:01.777. [Epub ahead of print]
      PURPOSE: Oncogenic alterations of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT pathway occur in >40% of patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), predominantly via PTEN loss. The significance of other PI3K pathway components in prostate cancer is largely unknown.EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Patients in this study underwent tumor sequencing using the MSK-IMPACT clinical assay to capture single-nucleotide variants, insertions, and deletions, copy number alterations, and structural rearrangements, or were profiled through The Cancer Genome Atlas. The association between PIK3R1 alteration/expression and survival was evaluated using univariable and multivariable Cox proportional-hazards regression models. We used siRNA-based knockdown of PIK3R1 for functional studies. FDG-PET/CT examinations were performed with a hybrid PET/CT scanner for some prostate cancer patients in MSK-IMPACT cohort.
    RESULTS: Analyzing 1417 human prostate cancers, we found a significant enrichment of PIK3R1 alterations in metastatic cancers compared to primary cancers. PIK3R1 alterations or reduced mRNA expression tended to be associated with worse clinical outcomes in prostate cancer, particularly in primary disease, as well as in breast, gastric, and several other cancers. In prostate cancer cell lines, PIK3R1 knockdown resulted in increased cell proliferation and AKT activity, including insulin-stimulated AKT activity. In cell lines and organoids, PIK3R1 loss/mutation was associated with increased sensitivity to AKT inhibitors. PIK3R1-altered patient prostate tumors had increased uptake of the glucose analogue 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose in PET imaging, suggesting increased glycolysis.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our findings describe a novel genomic feature in metastatic prostate cancer and suggest that PIK3R1 alteration may be a key event for insulin-PI3K-glycolytic pathway regulation in prostate cancer.
  7. NPJ Breast Cancer. 2022 Jun 08. 8(1): 71
      PIK3CA mutations are the most common in breast cancer, particularly in the estrogen receptor-positive cohort, but the benefit of PI3K inhibitors has had limited success compared with approaches targeting other less common mutations. We found a frequent allelic expression imbalance between the missense mutant and wild-type PIK3CA alleles in breast tumors from the METABRIC (70.2%) and the TCGA (60.1%) projects. When considering the mechanisms controlling allelic expression, 27.7% and 11.8% of tumors showed imbalance due to regulatory variants in cis, in the two studies respectively. Furthermore, preferential expression of the mutant allele due to cis-regulatory variation is associated with poor prognosis in the METABRIC tumors (P = 0.031). Interestingly, ER-, PR-, and HER2+ tumors showed significant preferential expression of the mutated allele in both datasets. Our work provides compelling evidence to support the clinical utility of PIK3CA allelic expression in breast cancer in identifying patients of poorer prognosis, and those with low expression of the mutated allele, who will unlikely benefit from PI3K inhibitors. Furthermore, our work proposes a model of differential regulation of a critical cancer-promoting gene in breast cancer.
  8. Proteomics. 2022 Jun 11. e2200077
      PIK3CA is one of the most frequently mutated genes in human cancers, with the two most prevalent activating mutations being E545K and H1047R. Although the altered intracellular signaling pathways in these cells have been described, the effect of these mutations on their extracellular vesicles (EVs) has not yet been reported. To study altered cellular physiology and intercellular communication through proteomic analysis of EVs, MCF10A cells and their isogenic mutant versions (PIK3CA E545K and H1047R) were cultured and their EVs enriched by differential ultracentrifugation. Proteins were extracted, digested with trypsin and the peptides labeled with tandem mass tag (TMT) reagents and analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). 4,655 peptides were identified from 579 proteins of which 522 proteins have been previously described in EVs. Relative quantitation revealed altered levels of EV proteins including several cell adhesion molecules. Mesothelin, E-cadherin and epithelial cell adhesion molecule were elevated in both mutant cell-derived EVs. Markers of tumor invasion and progression like galectin-3 and transforming growth factor beta induced protein were increased in both mutants. Overall, activating mutations in PIK3CA result in altered EV composition with characteristic changes associated with these hotspot mutations. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Keywords:  PI3K; exosomes; mass spectrometry; oncogenic mutation; proteomics
  9. Nat Commun. 2022 Jun 06. 13(1): 3135
      Patient-derived organoids resemble the biology of tissues and tumors, enabling ex vivo modeling of human diseases. They have heterogeneous morphologies with unclear biological causes and relationship to treatment response. Here, we use high-throughput, image-based profiling to quantify phenotypes of over 5 million individual colorectal cancer organoids after treatment with >500 small molecules. Integration of data using multi-omics modeling identifies axes of morphological variation across organoids: Organoid size is linked to IGF1 receptor signaling, and cystic vs. solid organoid architecture is associated with LGR5 + stemness. Treatment-induced organoid morphology reflects organoid viability, drug mechanism of action, and is biologically interpretable. Inhibition of MEK leads to cystic reorganization of organoids and increases expression of LGR5, while inhibition of mTOR induces IGF1 receptor signaling. In conclusion, we identify shared axes of variation for colorectal cancer organoid morphology, their underlying biological mechanisms, and pharmacological interventions with the ability to move organoids along them.