Targeting mTOR signaling pathways and related negative feedback loops for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia.
ABSTRACT: 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 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:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a highly heterogeneous hematopoietic malignancy characterized by excessive proliferation and accumulation of immature myeloid blasts in the bone marrow. AML has a very poor 5-year survival rate of just 16% in the UK; hence, more efficacious, tolerable, and targeted therapy is required. Persistent leukemia stem cell (LSC) populations underlie patient relapse and development of resistance to therapy. Identification of critical oncogenic signaling pathways in AML LSC may provide new avenues for novel therapeutic strategies. The phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway, is often hyperactivated in AML, required to sustain the oncogenic potential of LSCs. Growing evidence suggests that targeting key components of this pathway may represent an effective treatment to kill AML LSCs. Despite this, accruing significant body of scientific knowledge, PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibitors have not translated into clinical practice. In this article, we review the laboratory-based evidence of the critical role of PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway in AML, and outcomes from current clinical studies using PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibitors. Based on these results, we discuss the putative mechanisms of resistance to PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibition, offering rationale for potential candidate combination therapies incorporating PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibitors for precision medicine in AML.
Project description:Constitutive signaling through the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase-Akt-mechanistic target of rapamycin (PI3K-Akt-mTOR) pathway is present in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. However, AML is a heterogeneous disease, and we therefore investigated possible associations between cellular metabolism and sensitivity to PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway inhibitors. We performed non-targeted metabolite profiling to compare the metabolome differences of primary human AML cells derived from patients susceptible or resistant to the in vitro antiproliferative effects of mTOR and PI3K inhibitors. In addition, the phosphorylation status of 18 proteins involved in PI3K-Akt-mTOR signaling and the effect of the cyclooxygenase inhibitor indomethacin on their phosphorylation status was investigated by flow cytometry. Strong antiproliferative effects by inhibitors were observed only for a subset of patients. We compared the metabolite profiles for responders and non-responders towards PI3K-mTOR inhibitors, and 627 metabolites could be detected. Of these metabolites, 128 were annotated and 15 of the annotated metabolites differed significantly between responders and non-responders, including metabolites involved in energy, amino acid, and lipid metabolism. To conclude, leukemia cells that are susceptible or resistant to PI3K-Akt-mTOR inhibitors differ in energy, amino acid, and arachidonic acid metabolism, and modulation of arachidonic acid metabolism alters the activation of mTOR and its downstream mediators.
Project description:The development of drug resistance by cancer cells is recognized as a major cause for drug failure and disease progression. The PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway is aberrantly stimulated in many cancer cells and thus it has emerged as a target for therapy. However, mTORC1 and S6K also mediate potent negative feedback loops that attenuate signaling via insulin/insulin growth factor receptor and other tyrosine kinase receptors. Suppression of these feedback loops causes overactivation of upstream pathways, including PI3K, AKT, and ERK that potentially oppose the antiproliferative effects of mTOR inhibitors and lead to drug resistance. A corollary of this concept is that release of negative feedback loops and consequent compensatory overactivation of promitogenic pathways in response to signal inhibitors can circumvent the mitogenic block imposed by targeting only one pathway. Consequently, the elucidation of the negative feedback loops that regulate the outputs of signaling networks has emerged as an area of fundamental importance for the rational design of effective anticancer combinations of inhibitors. Here, we review pathways that undergo compensatory overactivation in response to inhibitors that suppress feedback inhibition of upstream signaling and underscore the importance of unintended pathway activation in the development of drug resistance to clinically relevant inhibitors of mTOR, AKT, PI3K, or PI3K/mTOR.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a malignant disease of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, and most AML patients are in a severe state. Internal tandem duplication mutations in FLT3 gene (FLT3-ITD) detected in AML stem cells account for 20–30 percent of AML patients. In this study, we attempted to study the impact of the interaction of FLT3-ITD mutation and the CXCL12/CXCR4 axis in AML, and the possible mechanisms caused by the impact by bioinformatics. Gene set variation analysis (GSVA) revealed that the PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway positively correlated with the status of FLT3-ITD mutation. Multiple survival analyses were performed on TCGA-AML to screen the prognostic-related genes, and RPS6KA1 and AP2M1 are powerful prognostic candidates for overall survival in AML. WGCNA, KEGG/GO analysis, and the functional roles of RPS6KA1 and AP2M1 in AML were clarified by correlation analysis. We found that the expression levels of RPS6KA1 and AP2M1 were significantly associated with chemoresistance of AML, and the CXCL12/CXCR4 axis would regulate RPS6KA1/AP2M1 expression. Besides, miR-138-5p, regulated by the CXCL12/CXCR4 axis, was the common miRNA target of RPS6KA1 and AP2M1. Taken together, the interaction of FLT3-ITD mutation and the CXCL12/CXCR4 axis activated the PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway, and the increased expression of RPS6KA1 and AP2M1 caused by hsa-miR-138-5p downregulation regulates the multi-resistance gene expression leading to drug indications.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a heterogeneous group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled proliferation of hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow. Malignant cell growth is characterized by disruption of normal intracellular signaling, caused by mutations or aberrant external signaling. The phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway (PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway) is among one of the intracellular pathways aberrantly upregulated in cancers including AML. Activation of this pathway seems important in leukemogenesis, and given the central role of this pathway in metabolism, the bioenergetics of AML cells may depend on downstream signaling within this pathway. Furthermore, observations suggest that constitutive activation of the PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway differs between patients, and that increased activity within this pathway is an adverse prognostic parameter in AML. Pharmacological targeting of the PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway with specific inhibitors results in suppression of leukemic cell growth. However, AML patients seem to differ regarding their susceptibility to various small-molecule inhibitors, reflecting biological heterogeneity in the intracellular signaling status. These findings should be further investigated in both preclinical and clinical settings, along with the potential use of this pathway as a prognostic biomarker, both in patients receiving intensive curative AML treatment and in elderly/unfit receiving AML-stabilizing treatment.
Project description:The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt-mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is constitutively activated in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells and is regarded as a possible therapeutic target. Insulin is an agonist of this pathway and a growth factor for AML cells. We characterized the effect of insulin on the phosphorylation of 10 mediators in the main track of the PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway in AML cells from 76 consecutive patients. The overall results showed that insulin significantly increased the phosphorylation of all investigated mediators. However, insulin effects on the pathway activation profile varied among patients, and increased phosphorylation in all mediators was observed only in a minority of patients; in other patients, insulin had divergent effects. Global gene expression profiling and proteomic/phosphoproteomic comparisons suggested that AML cells from these two patient subsets differed with regard to AML cell differentiation, transcriptional regulation, RNA metabolism, and cellular metabolism. Strong insulin-induced phosphorylation was associated with weakened antiproliferative effects of metabolic inhibitors. PI3K, Akt, and mTOR inhibitors also caused divergent effects on the overall pathway phosphorylation profile in the presence of insulin, although PI3K and Akt inhibition caused a general reduction in Akt pT308 and 4EBP1 pT36/pT45 phosphorylation. For Akt inhibition, the phosphorylation of upstream mediators was generally increased or unaltered. In contrast, mTOR inhibition reduced mTOR pS2448 and S6 pS244 phosphorylation but increased Akt pT308 phosphorylation. In conclusion, the effects of both insulin and PI3K-Akt-mTOR inhibitors differ between AML patient subsets, and differences in insulin responsiveness are associated with differential susceptibility to metabolic targeting.
Project description:Clonal heterogeneity detected by karyotyping is a biomarker associated with adverse prognosis in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Constitutive activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase-Akt-mechanistic target of rapamycin (PI3K-Akt-mTOR) pathway is present in AML cells, and this pathway integrates signaling from several upstream receptors/mediators. We suggest that this pathway reflects biologically important clonal heterogeneity. We investigated constitutive PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway activation in primary human AML cells derived from 114 patients, together with 18 pathway mediators. The cohort included patients with normal karyotype or single karyotype abnormalities and with an expected heterogeneity of molecular genetic abnormalities. Clonal heterogeneity reflected as pathway mediator heterogeneity was detected for 49 patients. Global gene expression profiles of AML cell populations with and without clonal heterogeneity differed with regard to expression of ectopic olfactory receptors (a subset of G-protein coupled receptors) and proteins involved in G-protein coupled receptor signaling. Finally, the presence of clonal heterogeneity was associated with adverse prognosis for patients receiving intensive antileukemic treatment. The clonal heterogeneity as reflected in the activation status of selected mediators in the PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway was associated with a different gene expression profile and had an independent prognostic impact. Biological heterogeneity reflected in the intracellular signaling status should be further investigated as a prognostic biomarker in human AML.
Project description:The PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, which is aberrantly stimulated in many cancer cells, has emerged as a target for therapy. However, mTORC1/S6K also mediates negative feedback loops that attenuate upstream signaling. Suppression of these feedback loops opposes the growth-suppressive effects of mTOR inhibitors and leads to drug resistance. Here, we demonstrate that treatment of PANC-1 or MiaPaCa-2 pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells with the dual PI3K/mTOR kinase inhibitor (PI3K/TOR-KI) BEZ235 blocked mTORC1/S6K activation (scored by S6 phosphorylation at Ser(240/244)), mTORC1/4E-BP1 (assayed by 4E-BP1 phosphorylation at Thr(37/46)), and mTORC2-mediated AKT phosphorylation at Ser(473), in a concentration-dependent manner. Strikingly, BEZ235 markedly enhanced the MEK/ERK pathway in a dose-dependent manner. Maximal ERK overactivation coincided with complete inhibition of phosphorylation of AKT and 4E-BP1. ERK overactivation was induced by other PI3K/TOR-KIs, including PKI-587 and GDC-0980. The MEK inhibitors U126 or PD0325901 prevented ERK overactivation induced by PI3K/TOR-KIs. The combination of BEZ235 and PD0325901 caused a more pronounced inhibition of cell growth than that produced by each inhibitor individually. Mechanistic studies assessing PI3K activity in single PDAC cells indicate that PI3K/TOR-KIs act through a PI3K-independent pathway. Doses of PI3K/TOR-KIs that enhanced MEK/ERK activation coincided with those that inhibited mTORC2-mediated AKT phosphorylation on Ser(473), suggesting a role of mTORC2. Knockdown of RICTOR via transfection of siRNA markedly attenuated the enhancing effect of BEZ235 on ERK phosphorylation. We propose that dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitors suppress a novel negative feedback loop mediated by mTORC2, thereby leading to enhanced MEK/ERK pathway activity in pancreatic cancer cells.
Project description:Activating mutations of the FLT3 gene mediate leukemogenesis, at least in part, through activation of PI3K/AKT. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-Raptor signaling pathway is known to act downstream of AKT. Here we show that the mTOR effectors, 4EBP1, p70S6K and rpS6, are highly activated in cultured and primary FLT3-mutated acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. Introduction of FLT3-ITD expressing constitutively activated FLT3 kinase further activates mTOR and its downstream effectors in BaF3 cells. We also found that mTOR signaling contributes to tumor cell survival, as demonstrated by pharmacologic inhibition of PI3K/AKT/mTOR, or total silencing of the mTOR gene. Furthermore, inhibition of FLT3 kinase results in downregulation of mTOR signaling associated with decreased survival of FLT3-mutated AML cells. These findings suggest that mTOR signaling operates downstream of activated FLT3 kinase thus contributing to tumor cell survival, and may represent a promising therapeutic target for AML patients with mutated-FLT3.