Role of the PI3K/AKT and mTOR signaling pathways in acute myeloid leukemia.
ABSTRACT: The PI3K/AKT and mTOR signaling pathways are activated in acute myeloid leukemia, including in the more immature leukemic populations. Constitutive PI3K activation is detectable in 50% of acute myeloid leukemia samples whereas mTORC1 is activated in all cases of this disease. In leukemic cells, the PI3K activity relates to the expression of the p110delta isoform of class IA PI3K. Constitutive PI3K activation is the result of autocrine IGF-1/IGF-1R signaling in 70% of acute myeloid leukemia samples but specific inhibition of this pathway does not induce apoptosis. Specific inhibition of PI3K/AKT or mTORC1 alone in vitro has anti-leukemic effects which are essentially exerted via the suppression of proliferation. However, as mTORC1 activation is independent of PI3K/AKT in acute myeloid leukemia, dual PI3K and mTOR inhibitors may induce apoptosis in blast cells. Moreover, mTORC1 inhibition using sirolimus overactivates PI3K/AKT via the upregulation of IRS2 expression and by favoring IGF-1/IGF-1R autocrine signaling. Recent data also indicate that mTORC1 does not control protein translation in acute myeloid leukemia. These results open the way for the design of direct inhibitors of protein synthesis as novel acute myeloid leukemia therapies and also for the development of second generation mTOR inhibitors (the TORKinhibs).
Project description:The interactions between the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is known to promote survival of AML cells. In this study, we used reverse phase-protein array (RPPA) technology to measure changes in multiple proteins induced by stroma in leukemic cells. We then investigated the potential of an mTOR kinase inhibitor, PP242, to disrupt leukemia/stroma interactions, and examined the effects of PP242 in vivo using a mouse model. Using RPPA, we confirmed that multiple survival signaling pathways, including the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (AKT)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), were up-regulated in primary AML cells cocultured with stroma. PP242 effectively induced apoptosis in primary samples cultured with or without stroma. Mechanistically, PP242 attenuated the activities of mTORC1 and mTORC2, sequentially inhibited phosphorylated AKT, S6K, and 4EBP1, and concurrently suppressed chemokine receptor CXCR4 expression in primary leukemic cells and in stromal cells cultured alone or cocultured with leukemic cells. In the in vivo leukemia mouse model, PP242 inhibited mTOR signaling in leukemic cells and demonstrated a greater antileukemia effect than rapamycin. Our findings indicate that disrupting mTOR/AKT signaling with a selective mTOR kinase inhibitor can effectively target leukemic cells within the BM microenvironment.
Project description:An accumulating understanding of the complex pathogenesis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) continues to lead to promising therapeutic approaches. Among the key aberrant intracellular signaling pathways involved in AML, the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (PI3K/AKT/mTOR) axis is of major interest. This axis modulates a wide array of critical cellular functions, including proliferation, metabolism, and survival. Pharmacologic inhibitors of components of this pathway have been developed over the past decade, but none has an established role in the treatment of AML. This review will discuss the preclinical data and clinical results driving ongoing attempts to exploit the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway in patients with AML and address issues related to negative feedback loops that account for leukemic cell survival. Targeting the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway is of high interest for the treatment of AML, but combination therapies with other targeted agents may be needed to block negative feedback loops in leukemia cells.
Project description:The mTORC1 inhibitor RAD001 (everolimus) is approved for treatment of recurrent/metastatic estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer in combination with the aromatase inhibitor (AI) exemestane. The benefits of A) continued anti-estrogen therapy for anti-estrogen-resistant disease in the context of mTORC1 inhibition, and B) adjuvant everolimus in combination with anti-estrogen therapy for early-stage disease are being tested clinically, but molecular rationale remains unclear. We hypothesized that mTORC1 inhibition activates the IGF-1R/InsR/IRS-1/2 axis in an ER-dependent manner to drive PI3K/AKT and promote cancer cell survival, implicating ER in survival signaling induced by mTORC1 inhibition. Anti-estrogen treatment synergized with RAD001 to inhibit ER+ breast cancer cell growth. Inhibition of ER, IGF-1R/InsR, or IRS-1/2 suppressed AKT activation induced by mTORC1 inhibition. RAD001 primed IGF-1R/InsR for activation, which was enhanced by ER signaling. Post-menopausal patients with early-stage ER+ breast cancer were treated presurgically +/- the AI letrozole. Viable tumor fragments from surgical specimens were treated with RAD001 and/or OSI-906 ex vivo; RAD001 increased AKT activation, which was abrogated by presurgical letrozole. Letrozole decreased IGF-1R and IRS-1/2 tumor levels. These data suggest that ER drives PI3K/AKT activation in response to mTORC1 inhibition, providing molecular rationale for therapeutic combinations of anti-estrogens and mTORC1 inhibitors in endocrine-sensitive disease.
Project description:INTRODUCTION: Dysregulation of the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R)/phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway was shown to correlate with breast cancer disease progression. Cancer stem cells are a subpopulation within cancer cells that participate in tumor initiation, radio/chemoresistance and metastasis. In breast cancer, breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) were identified as CD24-CD44+ cells or cells with high intracellular aldehyde dehydrogenase activity (ALDH+). Elucidation of the role of IGF-1R in BCSCs is crucial to the design of breast cancer therapies targeting BCSCs. METHODS: IGF-1R expression in BCSCs and noncancer stem cells sorted from xenografts of human primary breast cancers was examined by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), western blot analysis and immunoprecipitation. The role of IGF-1R in BCSCs was assessed by IGF-1R blockade with chemical inhibitor and gene silencing. Involvement of PI3K/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) as the downstream pathway was studied by their phosphorylation status upon IGF-1R inhibition and the effects of chemical inhibitors of these signaling molecules on BCSCs. We also studied 16 clinical specimens of breast cancer for the expression of phosphor-Akt in the BCSCs by FACS. RESULTS: Expression of phosphorylated IGF-1R was greater in BCSCs than in non-BCSCs from xenografts of human breast cancer, which were supported by western blot and immunoprecipitation experiments. The sorted IGF-1R-expressing cells displayed features of cancer stem/progenitors such as mammosphere formation in vitro and tumorigenicity in vivo, both of which were suppressed by knockdown of IGF-1R. A specific inhibitor of the IGF-1R, picropodophyllin suppressed phospho-AktSer473 and preferentially decreased ALDH+ BCSC populations of human breast cancer cells. Furthermore, picropodophyllin inhibited the capacity of CD24-CD44+ BCSCs to undergo the epithelial-mesenchymal transition process with downregulation of mesenchymal markers. Inhibitors of signal molecules downstream of IGF-1R including PI3K/Akt/mTOR also reduced the ALDH+ population of breast cancer cells. Furthermore, the mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, suppressed BCSCs in vitro and in vivo. CONCLUSION: Our data support the notion that IGF-1R is a marker of stemness, and IGF-1R and its downstream PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway are attractive targets for therapy directed against breast cancer stem/progenitors.
Project description:Traditionally, GRP78 is regarded as protective against hypoxia and nutrient starvation prevalent in the microenvironment of solid tumors; thus, its role in the development of hematologic malignancies remains to be determined. To directly elucidate the requirement of GRP78 in leukemogenesis, we created a biallelic conditional knockout mouse model of GRP78 and PTEN in the hematopoietic system. Strikingly, heterozygous knockdown of GRP78 in PTEN null mice is sufficient to restore the hematopoietic stem cell population back to the normal percentage and suppress leukemic blast cell expansion. AKT/mTOR activation in PTEN null BM cells is potently inhibited by Grp78 heterozygosity, corresponding with suppression of the PI3K/AKT pathway by GRP78 knockdown in leukemia cell lines. This is the first demonstration that GRP78 is a critical effector of leukemia progression, at least in part through regulation of oncogenic PI3K/AKT signaling. In agreement with PI3K/AKT as an effector for cytosine arabinoside resistance in acute myeloid leukemia, overexpression of GRP78 renders human leukemic cells more resistant to cytosine arabinoside-induced apoptosis, whereas knockdown of GRP78 sensitizes them. These, coupled with the emerging association of elevated GRP78 expression in leukemic blasts of adult patients and early relapse in childhood leukemia, suggest that GRP78 is a novel therapeutic target for leukemia.
Project description:Hyperactivation of the mTOR pathway impairs hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) functions and promotes leukemogenesis. mTORC1 and mTORC2 differentially control normal and leukemic stem cell functions. mTORC1 regulates p70 ribosomal protein S6 kinase 1 (S6K1) and eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding (eIF4E-binding) protein 1 (4E-BP1), and mTORC2 modulates AKT activation. Given the extensive crosstalk that occurs between mTORC1 and mTORC2 signaling pathways, we assessed the role of the mTORC1 substrate S6K1 in the regulation of both normal HSC functions and in leukemogenesis driven by the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) fusion oncogene MLL-AF9. We demonstrated that S6K1 deficiency impairs self-renewal of murine HSCs by reducing p21 expression. Loss of S6K1 also improved survival in mice transplanted with MLL-AF9-positive leukemic stem cells by modulating AKT and 4E-BP1 phosphorylation. Taken together, these results suggest that S6K1 acts through multiple targets of the mTOR pathway to promote self-renewal and leukemia progression. Given the recent interest in S6K1 as a potential therapeutic target in cancer, our results further support targeting this molecule as a potential strategy for treatment of myeloid malignancies.
Project description:The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling axis plays a central role in cell proliferation, growth, and survival under physiological conditions. However, aberrant PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling has been implicated in many human cancers, including acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Therefore, the PI3K/Akt/mTOR network is considered as a validated target for innovative cancer therapy. The limit of acceptable toxicity for standard polychemotherapy has been reached in AML. Novel therapeutic strategies are therefore needed. This review highlights how the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling axis is constitutively active in AML patients, where it affects survival, proliferation, and drug-resistance of leukemic cells including leukemic stem cells. Effective targeting of this pathway with small molecule kinase inhibitors, employed alone or in combination with other drugs, could result in the suppression of leukemic cell growth. Furthermore, targeting the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling network with small pharmacological inhibitors, employed either alone or in combinations with other drugs, may result in less toxic and more efficacious treatment of AML patients. Efforts to exploit pharmacological inhibitors of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR cascade which show efficacy and safety in the clinical setting are now underway.
Project description:The outlook for patients with advanced renal cell cancer (RCC) has been improved by targeted agents including inhibitors of the PI3 kinase (PI3K)-AKT-mTOR axis, although treatment resistance is a major problem. Here, we aimed to understand how RCC cells acquire resistance to PI3K-mTOR inhibition. We used the RCC4 cell line to generate a model of in vitro resistance by continuous culture in PI3K-mTOR kinase inhibitor NVP-BEZ235 (BEZ235, Dactolisib). Resistant cells were cross-resistant to mTOR inhibitor AZD2014. Sensitivity was regained after 4 months drug withdrawal, and resistance was partially suppressed by HDAC inhibition, supporting an epigenetic mechanism. BEZ235-resistant cells up-regulated and/or activated numerous proteins including MET, ABL, Notch, IGF-1R, INSR and MEK/ERK. However, resistance was not reversed by inhibiting or depleting these pathways, suggesting that many induced changes were passengers not drivers of resistance. BEZ235 blocked phosphorylation of mTOR targets S6 and 4E-BP1 in parental cells, but 4E-BP1 remained phosphorylated in resistant cells, suggesting BEZ235-refractory mTORC1 activity. Consistent with this, resistant cells over-expressed mTORC1 component RAPTOR at the mRNA and protein level. Furthermore, BEZ235 resistance was suppressed by RAPTOR depletion, or allosteric mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin. These data reveal that RAPTOR up-regulation contributes to PI3K-mTOR inhibitor resistance, and suggest that RAPTOR expression should be included in the pharmacodynamic assessment of mTOR kinase inhibitor trials.
Project description:Activating mutations, such as E76K and D61Y, in PTPN11 (SHP2), a protein tyrosine phosphatase implicated in multiple cell signaling processes, are associated with 35% of patients with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML), an aggressive childhood myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN). Here we show that the interaction between leukemia-associated mutant Shp2 and Gab2, a scaffolding protein important for cytokine-induced PI3K/Akt signaling, was enhanced, and that the mTOR pathway was elevated in Ptpn11E76K/+ leukemic cells. Importantly, MPN induced by the Ptpn11E76K/+ mutation was markedly attenuated in Ptpn11E76K/+/Gab2-/- double mutant mice-overproduction of myeloid cells was alleviated, splenomegaly was diminished and myeloid cell infiltration in nonhematopoietic organs was decreased in these double mutants. Excessive myeloid differentiation of stem cells was also normalized by depletion of Gab2. Acute leukemia progression of MPN was reduced in the double mutant mice and, as such, their survival was much prolonged. Furthermore, treatment of Ptpn11E76K/+ mice with Rapamycin, a specific and potent mTOR inhibitor, mitigated MPN phenotypes. Collectively, this study reveals an important role of the Gab2/PI3K/mTOR pathway in mediating the pathogenic signaling of the PTPN11 gain-of-function mutations and a therapeutic potential of Rapamycin for PTPN11 mutation-associated JMML.
Project description:Selective phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT/mTOR inhibitors are currently under evaluation in clinical studies. To identify tumor types that are sensitive to PI3K pathway inhibitors we screened compounds targeting PI3K?/? (AZD8835), PI3K?/? (AZD8186), AKT (AZD5363) and mTORC1/2 (AZD2014) against a cancer cell line panel (971 cell lines). There was an enrichment of hematological malignancies that were sensitive to AKT and mTOR inhibition, with the greatest degree of sensitivity observed in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). We found that all NOTCH mutant T-ALL cell lines were sensitive to AKT and mTORC1/2 inhibitors, with only partial sensitivity to agents that target the PI3K ?, ? or ? isoforms. Induction of apoptosis only occurred following AKTi treatment in cell lines with PTEN protein loss and high levels of active AKT. In summary, we have demonstrated that T-ALL cell lines show differential sensitivity to inhibition at different nodes in the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway and inhibiting AKT or mTOR may have a therapeutic benefit in this disease setting.