Targeting Akt3 signaling in triple-negative breast cancer.
ABSTRACT: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is currently the only major breast tumor subtype without effective targeted therapy and, as a consequence, in general has a poor outcome. To identify new therapeutic targets in TNBC, we performed a short hairpin RNA (shRNA) screen for protein kinases commonly amplified and overexpressed in breast cancer. Using this approach, we identified AKT3 as a gene preferentially required for the growth of TNBCs. Downregulation of Akt3 significantly inhibits the growth of TNBC lines in three-dimensional (3D) spheroid cultures and in mouse xenograft models, whereas loss of Akt1 or Akt2 have more modest effects. Akt3 silencing markedly upregulates the p27 cell-cycle inhibitor and this is critical for the ability of Akt3 to inhibit spheroid growth. In contrast with Akt1, Akt3 silencing results in only a minor enhancement of migration and does not promote invasion. Depletion of Akt3 in TNBC sensitizes cells to the pan-Akt inhibitor GSK690693. These results imply that Akt3 has a specific function in TNBCs; thus, its therapeutic targeting may provide a new treatment option for this tumor subtype.
Project description:Off-target effects continue to impede disease interventions, particularly when targeting a specific protein within a family of similar proteins, such as kinase isoforms that play tumor-subtype-specific roles in cancers. Exploiting the specific electrophilic-metabolite-sensing capability of Akt3, versus moderate or no sensing, respectively, by Akt2 and Akt1, we describe a first-in-class functionally Akt3-selective covalent inhibitor [MK-H(F)NE], wherein the electrophilic core is derived from the native reactive lipid metabolite HNE. Mechanistic profiling and pathway interrogations point to retention of the metabolite's structure-as opposed to implicit electrophilicity-as being essential for biasing isoform preference, which we found translates to tumor-subtype specificity against pten-null triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs). MK-H(F)NE further enables novel downstream target identification specific to Akt3-function in disease. In TNBC xenografts, MK-H(F)NE fares better than reversible pan-Akt-inhibitors and does not show commonly observed side-effects associated with Akt1-inhibition. Inhibitors derived from native-metabolite sensing are thus an enabling plan-of-action for unmasking kinase-isoform-biased molecular targets and tumor-subtype-specific interventions.
Project description:The growth factor receptor/PI3K/AKT pathway is an important drug target in many cancers including Glioblastoma. AKT, a key node in the pathway, has 3 isoforms, AKT1, AKT2 and AKT3. Here we investigate their role in GBM. We find each activated, ser473 phosphorylated isoform is present in some GBMs but expression patterns vary. There is a direct relationship between human GBM patient outcome and both AKT1 and AKT2 mRNA levels, but an inverse relationship with AKT3 mRNA. Furthermore, AKT3 mRNA levels were high in a less aggressive GBM subtype. Overexpressing AKT3 improves survival in a rodent model of GBM and decreases colony forming efficiency, but not growth rate, in glioma cells. Silencing AKT3 slows cell cycle progression in one cell line and increases apoptosis in another. Our studies of AKT3 substrates indicate (1) silencing both AKT2 and AKT3 reduces GSK3 phosphorylation (2) only AKT2 silencing reduces S6 phosphorylation. Since S6 phosphorylation is a marker of mTORC1 activity this indicates that AKT2 activates mTORC1, but AKT3 does not. Our results indicate AKT isoforms have different roles and downstream substrates in GBM. Unexpectedly, they indicate AKT3 delays tumor progression. Therefore strategies that inhibit AKT3 may be unhelpful in some GBM patients.
Project description:The growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), induces angiogenesis and promotes endothelial cell (EC) proliferation. Affymetrix gene array analyses show that VEGF stimulates the expression of a cluster of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial genes, suggesting a role for VEGF in the regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis. We show that the serine threonine kinase Akt3 specifically links VEGF to mitochondrial biogenesis. A direct comparison of Akt1 vs. Akt3 gene silencing was performed in ECs and has uncovered a discrete role for Akt3 in the control of mitochondrial biogenesis. Silencing of Akt3, but not Akt1, results in a decrease in mitochondrial gene expression and mtDNA content. Nuclear-encoded mitochondrial gene transcripts are also found to decrease when Akt3 expression is silenced. Concurrent with these changes in mitochondrial gene expression, lower O(2) consumption was observed. VEGF stimulation of the major mitochondrial import protein TOM70 is also blocked by Akt3 inhibition. In support of a role for Akt3 in the regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis, Akt3 silencing results in the cytoplasmic accumulation of the master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis, PGC-1alpha, and a reduction in known PGC-1alpha target genes. Finally, a subtle but significant, abnormal mitochondrial phenotype is observed in the brain tissue of AKT3 knockout mice. These results suggest that Akt3 is important in coordinating mitochondrial biogenesis with growth factor-induced increases in cellular energy demands.
Project description:Recently, a rare activating mutation of AKT1 (E17K) has been reported in breast, ovarian, and colorectal cancers. However, analogous activating mutations in AKT2 or AKT3 have not been identified in any cancer lineage. To determine the prevalence of AKT E17K mutations in melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, we analysed 137 human melanoma specimens and 65 human melanoma cell lines for the previously described activating mutation of AKT1, and for analogous mutations in AKT2 and AKT3. We identified a single AKT1 E17K mutation. Remarkably, a previously unidentified AKT3 E17K mutation was detected in two melanomas (from one patient) as well as two cell lines. The AKT3 E17K mutation results in activation of AKT when expressed in human melanoma cells. This represents the first report of AKT mutations in melanoma, and the initial identification of an AKT3 mutation in any human cancer lineage. We have also identified the first known human cell lines with naturally occurring AKT E17K mutations.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Treatment of breast cancer patients with distant metastases represents one of the biggest challenges in today's gynecological oncology. Therefore, a better understanding of mechanisms promoting the development of metastases is of paramount importance. The serine/threonine kinase AKT was shown to drive cancer progression and metastasis. However, there is emerging data that single AKT isoforms (i.e. AKT1, AKT2 and AKT3) have different or even opposing functions in the regulation of cancer cell migration in vitro, giving rise to the hypothesis that inhibition of distinct AKT isoforms might have undesirable effects on cancer dissemination in vivo. METHODS:The triple negative breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 was used to investigate the functional roles of AKT in migration and metastasis. AKT single and double knockdown cells were generated using isoform specific shRNAs. Migration was analyzed using live cell imaging, chemotaxis and transwell assays. The metastatic potential of AKT isoform knockdown cells was evaluated in a subcutaneous xenograft mouse model in vivo. RESULTS:Depletion of AKT3, but not AKT1 or AKT2, resulted in increased migration in vitro. This effect was even more prominent in AKT2,3 double knockdown cells. Furthermore, combined downregulation of AKT2 and AKT3, as well as AKT1 and AKT3 significantly increased metastasis formation in vivo. Screening for promigratory proteins revealed that downregulation of AKT3 increases the expression of S100A4 protein. In accordance, depletion of S100A4 by siRNA approach reverses the increased migration induced by knockdown of AKT3. CONCLUSIONS:We demonstrated that knockdown of AKT3 can increase the metastatic potential of triple negative breast cancer cells. Therefore, our results provide a rationale for the development of AKT isoform specific inhibitors.
Project description:The Akt family of serine/threonine kinases includes Akt1, Akt2, and Akt3 isoforms. Prior studies have reported that Akt1 and Akt2, but not Akt3, are expressed in platelets. Here, we show that Akt3 is expressed in substantial amounts in platelets. Akt3(-/-) mouse platelets selectively exhibit impaired platelet aggregation and secretion in response to low concentrations of thrombin receptor agonists and thromboxane A? (TXA?), but not collagen or VWF. In contrast, platelets from Akt1(-/-) or Akt2(-/-) mice are defective in platelet activation induced by thrombin, TXA?, and VWF, but only Akt1(-/-) platelets show significant defects in response to collagen, indicating differences among Akt isoforms. Akt3(-/-) platelets exhibit a significant reduction in thrombin-induced phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase 3? (GSK-3?) at Ser9, which is known to inhibit GSK-3? function. Thus, Akt3 is important in inhibiting GSK-3?. Accordingly, treatment of Akt3(-/-) platelets with a GSK-3? inhibitor rescued the defect of Akt3(-/-) platelets in thrombin-induced aggregation, suggesting that negatively regulating GSK-3? may be a mechanism by which Akt3 promotes platelet activation. Importantly, Akt3(-/-) mice showed retardation in FeCl?-induced carotid artery thrombosis in vivo. Thus, Akt3 plays an important and distinct role in platelet activation and in thrombosis.
Project description:Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is the most aggressive breast cancer subtype and is characterized by poor survival. Radiotherapy plays an important role in treating TNBC. The purpose of this study was to determine whether inhibiting the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathways alone or in combination potentiates radiotherapy in TNBC. AMPK?1 and AMPK?2 knockdown diminished cyclin D1 expression and induced G1 cell cycle arrest but did not induce apoptosis alone or in combination with radiotherapy. Next, we analyzed the role of PI3K p85?, p85?, p110?, p110?, Akt1, and Akt2 proteins on TNBC cell cycle progression and apoptosis induction. Akt1 and p110? knockdown diminished cyclin D1 expression and induced apoptosis. Silencing Akt1 promoted synergistic apoptosis induction during radiotherapy and further reduced survival after radiation. Treatment with the Akt inhibitor, MK-2206 48 h after radiotherapy decreased Akt1 levels and potentiated radiation-induced apoptosis. Together, our results demonstrate that AMPK?, p110?, and Akt1 promote TNBC proliferation and that Akt1 is a key regulator of radiosensitivity in TNBC. Importantly, combining radiotherapy with the pharmacological inhibition of Akt1 expression is a potentially promising approach for the treatment of TNBC.
Project description:The PI3 kinase/Akt pathway is commonly deregulated in human cancers, functioning in such processes as proliferation, glucose metabolism, survival and motility. We have previously described a novel function for one of the Akt isoforms (Akt3) in primary endothelial cells: the control of VEGF-induced mitochondrial biogenesis. We sought to determine if Akt3 played a similar role in carcinoma cells. Because the PI3 kinase/Akt pathway has been strongly implicated as a key regulator in ovarian carcinoma, we tested the role of Akt3 in this tumor type. Silencing of Akt3 by shRNA did not cause an overt reduction in mitochondrial gene expression in a series of PTEN positive ovarian cancer cells. Rather, we find that blockade of Akt3, results in smaller, less vascularized tumors in a xenograft mouse model that is correlated with a reduction in VEGF expression. We find that blockade of Akt3, but not Akt1, results in a reduction in VEGF secretion and retention of VEGF protein in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The reduction in secretion under conditions of Akt3 blockade is, at least in part, due to the down regulation of the resident golgi protein and reported tumor cell marker, RCAS1. Conversely, over-expression of Akt3 results in an increase in RCAS1 expression and in VEGF secretion. Silencing of RCAS1 using siRNA inhibits VEGF secretion. These findings suggest an important role for Akt3 in the regulation of RCAS1 and VEGF secretion in ovarian cancer cells.
Project description:Metaplastic breast carcinoma (MBC) is a rare subtype of breast carcinoma less responsive to conventional chemotherapy than ductal carcinoma. In molecular terms, MBCs usually cluster with triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs), but have a worse prognosis than TNBCs. Studies investigating MBCs for specific biomarkers of therapy response are rare and limited by the methodological approaches. The aim of the present study was to characterise MBCs on a molecular level and test programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) biomarker expression in MBCs for future therapeutic interventions.We profiled 297 samples (MBC (n=75), TNBC (n=106), human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive breast cancers (n=32) and hormone-positive breast cancers (n=84)) by next-generation sequencing. Immunohistochemistry for PD-L1 and programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) expression was performed using automated procedures.The most commonly mutated genes in MBCs included TP53 (56%) and PIK3CA (23%). Pathogenic mutations in other genes, including HRAS, FBXW7, PTEN, AKT1 and SMAD4, were rare. PD-L1 expression was detected in a significantly higher proportion of MBCs (46%) than in other subtypes (6% each in hormone-positive and HER2-positive breast cancers, and 9% in TNBC, not otherwise specified, p<0.001). PD-1-positive tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) varied greatly in MBCs.Comprehensive profiling of a large cohort of this rare subtype of breast carcinoma highlighted the predominance of TP53 mutation and increased PD-L1 expression in carcinoma cells. These results can be exploited in clinical trials using immune checkpoint inhibitors.
Project description:Signaling via epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and Src kinase pathways promote triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cell invasion and tumor metastasis. Here, we address the role of Cdc42-interacting protein-4 (CIP4) in TNBC metastasis in vivo, and profile CIP4 expression in human breast cancer patients. In human TNBC cells, CIP4 knock-down (KD) led to less sustained activation of Erk kinase and impaired cell motility compared to control cells. This correlated with significant defects in 3D invasion of surrounding extracellular matrix by CIP4 KD TNBC cells when grown as spheroid colonies. In mammary orthotopic xenograft assays using both human TNBC cells (MDA-MB-231, HCC 1806) and rat MTLn3 cells, CIP4 silencing had no overt effect on tumor growth, but significantly reduced the incidence of lung metastases in each tumor model. In human invasive breast cancers, high CIP4 levels was significantly associated with high tumor stage, TNBC and HER2 subtypes, and risk of progression to metastatic disease. Together, these results implicate CIP4 in promoting metastasis in TNBCs.