Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR inhibitors: rationale and importance to inhibiting these pathways in human health.
ABSTRACT: The Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR cascades are often activated by genetic alterations in upstream signaling molecules such as receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK). Integral components of these pathways, Ras, B-Raf, PI3K, and PTEN are also activated/inactivated by mutations. These pathways have profound effects on proliferative, apoptotic and differentiation pathways. Dysregulation of these pathways can contribute to chemotherapeutic drug resistance, proliferation of cancer initiating cells (CICs) and premature aging. This review will evaluate more recently described potential uses of MEK, PI3K, Akt and mTOR inhibitors in the proliferation of malignant cells, suppression of CICs, cellular senescence and prevention of aging. Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and Ras/PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR pathways play key roles in the regulation of normal and malignant cell growth. Inhibitors targeting these pathways have many potential uses from suppression of cancer, proliferative diseases as well as aging.
Project description:The Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR cascades are often activated by genetic alterations in upstream signaling molecules such as receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK). Targeting these pathways is often complex and can result in pathway activation depending on the presence of upstream mutations (e.g., Raf inhibitors induce Raf activation in cells with wild type (WT) RAF in the presence of mutant, activated RAS) and rapamycin can induce Akt activation. Targeting with inhibitors directed at two constituents of the same pathway or two different signaling pathways may be a more effective approach. This review will first evaluate potential uses of Raf, MEK, PI3K, Akt and mTOR inhibitors that have been investigated in pre-clinical and clinical investigations and then discuss how cancers can become insensitive to various inhibitors and potential strategies to overcome this resistance.
Project description:Patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) carry approximately a 10% lifetime risk of developing a malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST). Although the molecular mechanisms underlying NF1 to MPNST malignant transformation remain unclear, alterations of both the RAS/RAF/MAPK and PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathways have been implicated. In a series of genetically engineered murine models, we perturbed RAS/RAF/MAPK or/and PTEN/PI3K/AKT pathway, individually or simultaneously, via conditional activation of K-ras oncogene or deletion of Nf1 or Pten tumor suppressor genes. Only K-Ras activation in combination with a single Pten allele deletion led to 100% penetrable development of NF lesions and subsequent progression to MPNST. Importantly, loss or decrease in PTEN expression was found in all murine MPNSTs and a majority of human NF1-associated MPNST lesions, suggesting that PTEN dosage and its controlled signaling pathways are critical for transformation of NFs to MPNST. Using noninvasive in vivo PET-CT imaging, we demonstrated that FDG can be used to identify the malignant transformation in both murine and human MPNSTs. Our data suggest that combined inhibition of RAS/RAF/MAPK and PTEN/PI3K/AKT pathways may be beneficial for patients with MPNST.
Project description:The MAP kinase (Ras/MEK/ERK) and PI3K/Akt/mTOR oncogenic signaling pathways are central regulators of KRAS-mediated transformation. Molecular reciprocity between the Ras/MEK/ERK and PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathways provides cancer cells with the ability to evade treatment when targeting only one pathway with monotherapy. Multi-kinase targeting was explored through the development of a single bivalent chemical entity by covalent linking of high-affinity MEK and PI3K inhibitors. A prototype dual-acting agent (compound 8) designed using the PI3K inhibitor ZSTK474 and the Raf/MEK inhibitor RO5126766 as scaffolds displayed high in vitro inhibition of both PI3K (IC50=172nM) and MEK1 (IC50=473nM). Additionally, compound 8 demonstrated significant modulation of MEK and PI3K signaling pathway activity in human A549 human lung adenocarcinoma cells and pancreatic cancer cells (PANC-1) and also decreased cellular viability in these two cell lines.
Project description:<h4>Context</h4>Differentiated thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer tumors frequently have activation of the ras/raf /MAPK kinase (MEK)/ERK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI-3K)/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathways.<h4>Objective</h4>The objective of the study was to investigate the efficacy of MEK and mTOR inhibitors in preclinical thyroid cancer treatment models with defined mutation status.<h4>Experimental design</h4>The MEK inhibitor AZD6244 (ARRY-142886) and mTOR inhibitor rapamycin were tested separately and in combination in 10 differentiated thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer cell lines and in a xenograft model for evidence of pathway inhibition, growth inhibition, apoptosis, and long-range adaptation and resistance.<h4>Results</h4>Seven of 10 tested lines had evidence of significant basal activity of the PI-3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, with elevated phosphorylated AKT and phosphorylated p70 S6 kinase. Activation of ras/RAF/MEK/ERK was equally common in this panel. All 10 lines exhibited better than 60% growth inhibition with combined MEK and mTOR inhibition, including lines with BRAF, Ret-PTC, ras, and PTEN mutations. Rapamycin or AZD6244 alone achieved this threshold in six and two lines, respectively. Dual-pathway inhibition in the Ret-PTC mutant cell line TPC1 caused an intense G(1) arrest in cell culture and reversible cytostatic inhibition in a xenograft model. We did not observe significant feedback up-regulation of AKT activation in either acute or prolonged exposures.<h4>Conclusion</h4>These preclinical results support the inclusion of thyroid cancer patients in early-phase clinical trials combining RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK and PI-3K/AKT/mTOR pathway inhibition.
Project description:The Raf/MEK/ERK and PI3K/Akt pathways are prominent effectors of oncogenic Ras. These pathways negatively regulate each other, but the mechanism involved is incompletely understood. We now identify MEK1 as an essential regulator of lipid/protein phosphatase PTEN, through which it controls phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate accumulation and AKT signaling. MEK1 ablation stabilizes AKT activation and, in vivo, causes a lupus-like autoimmune disease and myeloproliferation. Mechanistically, MEK1 is necessary for PTEN membrane recruitment as part of a ternary complex containing the multidomain adaptor MAGI1. Complex formation is independent of MEK1 kinase activity but requires phosphorylation of T292 on MEK1 by activated ERK. Thus, inhibiting the ERK pathway reduces PTEN membrane recruitment, increasing phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate accumulation and AKT activation. Our data offer a conceptual framework for the observation that activation of the PI3K pathway frequently mediate resistance to MEK inhibitors and for the promising results obtained by combined MEK/PI3K inhibition in preclinical cancer models.
Project description:The phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) pathway is the most commonly activated pathway in cancers due to mutations at multiple nodes and loss of PTEN. Furthermore, in endometrial cancer (EC), PI3K and RAS/RAF/MEK/MAPK (RAS/MAPK herein) pathway mutations frequently co-exist. We examined the role of PI3K and RAS/MAPK pathway mutations in determining responsiveness to therapies targeted to these pathways in vitro in EC.13 EC cell lines were profiled for their PI3K pathway and KRAS mutational and PTEN protein status and treated with one MEK- and two PI3K- targeted inhibitors alone and in combination. Expression and phosphorylation of 66 proteins were evaluated by Reverse-Phase-Protein-Array (RPPA) in 6 EC cell lines to identify signalling changes in these pathways in response to therapy.PTEN protein loss and the absence of any tested pathway mutations are dominant negative predictors of sensitivity to MEK inhibition. KRAS-mutated cells were most sensitive to MEK inhibition, but significantly more resistant to PI3K inhibition than KRAS-wild-type cell lines. Combinations of PI3K and MEK inhibitors showed synergy or additivity in all but two cell lines tested. Treatment of KRAS-mutated cells with PI3K inhibitors and treatment of PTEN-low cells with a MEK inhibitor were most likely to induce activation of MEK/MAPK and AKT, respectively, likely indicative of feedback-loop regulation.MEK inhibition may be a promising treatment modality, not just for ECs with mutated KRAS, but also for those with retained PTEN. Up-regulation of MEK/MAPK signalling by PI3K inhibition, and up-regulation of AKT activation by MEK inhibition may serve as potential biomarkers of likely responsiveness to each inhibitor.
Project description:BACKGROUND:With proven single-agent activity and favorable toxicity profile of MEK-1/2 inhibition in advanced leukemia, investigation into combination strategies to overcome proposed resistance pathways is warranted. Resistance to MEK inhibition is secondary to upstream hyperactivation of RAS/RAF or activation of the PI3K/PTEN/AKT/mTOR pathway. This phase II multi-institution Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program-sponsored study was conducted to determine efficacy and safety of the combination of the ATP-competitive pan-AKT inhibitor GSK2141795, targeting the PI3K/AKT pathway, and the MEK inhibitor trametinib in RAS-mutated relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML). PATIENTS AND METHODS:The primary objective was to determine the proportion of patients achieving a complete remission. Secondary objectives included assessment of toxicity profile and biologic effects of this combination. Twenty-three patients with RAS-mutated AML received the combination. Two dose levels were explored (dose level 1: 2 mg trametinib, 25 mg GSK2141795 and dose level 2: 1.5 mg trametinib, 50 mg GSK2141795). RESULTS:Dose level 1 was identified as the recommended phase II dose. No complete remissions were identified in either cohort. Minor responses were recognized in 5 (22%) patients. The most common drug-related toxicities included rash and diarrhea, with dose-limiting toxicities of mucositis and colitis. Longitudinal correlative assessment of the modulation of MEK and AKT pathways using reverse phase protein array and phospho-flow analysis revealed significant and near significant down-modulation of pERK and pS6, respectively. Combined MEK and AKT inhibition had no clinical activity in patients with RAS-mutated AML. CONCLUSION:Further investigation is required to explore the discrepancy between the activity of this combination on leukemia cells and the lack of clinical efficacy.
Project description:We identified mutations in the IL7Ra gene or in genes encoding the downstream signaling molecules JAK1, JAK3, STAT5B, N-RAS, K-RAS, NF1, AKT and PTEN in 49% of patients with pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). Strikingly, these mutations (except RAS/NF1) were mutually exclusive, suggesting that they each cause the aberrant activation of a common downstream target. Expressing these mutant signaling molecules-but not their wild-type counterparts-rendered Ba/F3 cells independent of IL3 by activating the RAS-MEK-ERK and PI3K-AKT pathways. Interestingly, cells expressing either IL7Ra or JAK mutants are sensitive to JAK inhibitors, but respond less robustly to inhibitors of the downstream RAS-MEK-ERK and PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathways, indicating that inhibiting only one downstream pathway is not sufficient. Here, we show that inhibiting both the MEK and PI3K-AKT pathways synergistically prevents the proliferation of BaF3 cells expressing mutant IL7Ra, JAK and RAS. Furthermore, combined inhibition of MEK and PI3K/AKT was cytotoxic to samples obtained from 6 out of 11 primary T-ALL patients, including 1 patient who had no mutations in the IL7R signaling pathway. Taken together, these results suggest that the potent cytotoxic effects of inhibiting both MEK and PI3K/AKT should be investigated further as a therapeutic option using leukemia xenograft models.
Project description:PI3K Interacting Protein 1 (PIK3IP1) is a suppressor of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway. We previously reported that activated Ras suppresses PIK3IP1 expression to positively regulate the PI3K pathway in cancer cells. Using doxycycline-inducible PIK3IP1, here we confirm that reversing the effect of Ras by inducing expression of PIK3IP1 suppresses Ras-induced anchorage-independent growth, supporting the central role of PIK3IP1 in transformation. However, the molecular mechanisms by which Ras-activation that causes loss of PIK3IP1 expression are unknown. We find that Ras activity represses PIK3IP1 expression via the recruitment of lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1) to the PIK3IP1 gene promoter and enhancer, resulting in erasure of active histone marks. These studies demonstrate cross-activation of Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathways, where Ras decommissions PIK3IP1 gene expression by enhancing LSD1 and its corepressor activities to suppress PIK3IP1 transcription.
Project description:Metformin has been widely used as an antidiabetic drug, and reported to inhibit cell proliferation in many cancers including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In NSCLC cells, metformin suppresses PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway, but effect of metformin on RAS/ RAF/MEK/ERK signaling pathway is controversial; several studies showed the inhibition of ERK activity, while others demonstrated the activation of ERK in response to metformin exposure. Metformin-induced activation of ERK is therapeutically important, since metformin could enhance cell proliferation through RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway and lead to impairment of its anticancer activity suppressing PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, requiring blockade of both signaling pathways for more efficient antitumor effect. The present study tested the combination therapy of metformin and trametinib by monitoring the alterations of regulatory effector proteins of cell signaling pathways and the effect of the combination on cell viability in NCI-H2087 NSCLC cells with NRAS and BRAF mutations. We show that metformin alone blocks PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway but induces the activation and phosphorylation of ERK. The combination therapy synergistically decreased cell viability in treatment with low doses of two drugs, while it gave antagonistic effect with high doses. These findings suggest that the efficacy of metformin and trametinib combination therapy may depend on the alteration of ERK activity induced by metformin and specific cellular context of cancer cells.