AKT/mTORC2 Inhibition Activates FOXO1 Function in CLL Cells Reducing B-Cell Receptor-Mediated Survival.
ABSTRACT: PURPOSE:To determine whether inhibition of mTOR kinase-mediated signaling represents a valid therapeutic approach for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:Stratification of mTOR activity was carried out in patients with primary CLL samples and an aggressive CLL-like mouse model. The potency of dual mTOR inhibitor AZD8055 to induce apoptosis in primary CLL cells was assessed in the presence/absence of B-cell receptor (BCR) ligation. Furthermore, we addressed the molecular and functional impact of dual mTOR inhibition in combination with BTK inhibitor ibrutinib. RESULTS:Differential regulation of basal mTORC1 activity was observed in poor prognostic CLL samples, with elevated p4EBP1T37/46 and decreased p70S6 kinase activity, suggesting that dual mTORC1/2 inhibitors may exhibit improved response in poor prognostic CLL compared with rapalogs. AZD8055 treatment of primary CLL cells significantly reduced CLL survival in vitro compared with rapamycin, preferentially targeting poor prognostic subsets and overcoming BCR-mediated survival advantages. Furthermore, AZD8055, and clinical analog AZD2014, significantly reduced CLL tumor load in mice. AKT substrate FOXO1, while overexpressed in CLL cells of poor prognostic patients in LN biopsies, peripheral CLL cells, and mouse-derived CLL-like cells, appeared to be inactive. AZD8055 treatment partially reversed FOXO1 inactivation downstream of BCR crosslinking, significantly inhibiting FOXO1T24 phosphorylation in an mTORC2-AKT-dependent manner, to promote FOXO1 nuclear localization, activity, and FOXO1-mediated gene regulation. FOXO1 activity was further significantly enhanced on combining AZD8055 with ibrutinib. CONCLUSIONS:Our studies demonstrate that dual mTOR inhibitors show promise as future CLL therapies, particularly in combination with ibrutinib.
Project description:Ibrutinib (BTK inhibitor) has generated remarkable responses in CLL. However, the drug, to a large extent, does not cause cell death directly and does not eradicate CLL malignant clones. Inability to eradicate CLL has fostered resistance generation. Once patients become resistant, they do poorly with a median survival of 3-4 months. Novel therapeutic strategies are needed to prevent resistance, improve treatment outcome and ultimately cure the disease. Herein, we explore dual targeting of the BCR and JAK-STAT pathways with a novel single agent, cerdulatinib, which selectively inhibits both SYK (a BCR component) and JAK kinases. We demonstrated that cerdulatinib delivered potent tumor inhibition in 60 primary CLL patient samples, especially in those with poor prognostic indicators. Importantly, cerdulatinib, but not ibrutinib, is able to overcome the support of microenvironment and induces CLL cell death at clinically achievable concentrations. Notably, cerdulatinib blocked proliferation of ibrutinib-resistant primary CLL cells and of BTKC481S-transfected/ibrutinib-resistant lymphoma cells. These anti-tumor effects are well correlated with the inhibition of BCR and JAK-STAT signaling and downstream inhibition of the functions of AKT, ERK and NF?B. Collectively, our results show that simultaneous targeting of BCR and JAK-STAT pathways is a more effective strategy relative to single BTK inhibition.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Renal cell carcinomas (RCC) harboring a TFE3 gene fusion (TfRCC) represent an aggressive subset of kidney tumors. Key signaling pathways of TfRCC are unknown and preclinical in vivo data are lacking. We investigated Akt/mTOR pathway activation and the preclinical efficacy of dual mTORC1/2 versus selective mTORC1 inhibition in TfRCC. METHODS:Levels of phosphorylated Akt/mTOR pathway proteins were compared by immunoblot in TfRCC and clear cell RCC (ccRCC) cell lines. Effects of the mTORC1 inhibitor, sirolimus, and the dual mTORC1/2 inhibitor, AZD8055, on Akt/mTOR activation, cell cycle progression, cell viability and cytotoxicity were compared in TfRCC cells. TfRCC xenograft tumor growth in mice was evaluated after 3-week treatment with oral AZD8055, intraperitoneal sirolimus and respective vehicle controls. RESULTS:The Akt/mTOR pathway was activated to a similar or greater degree in TfRCC than ccRCC cell lines and persisted partly during growth factor starvation, suggesting constitutive activation. Dual mTORC1/2 inhibition with AZD8055 potently inhibited TfRCC viability (IC50 = 20-50 nM) due at least in part to cell cycle arrest, while benign renal epithelial cells were relatively resistant (IC50 = 400 nM). Maximal viability reduction was greater with AZD8055 than sirolimus (80-90% versus 30-50%), as was the extent of Akt/mTOR pathway inhibition, based on significantly greater suppression of P-Akt (Ser473), P-4EBP1, P-mTOR and HIF1α. In mouse xenograft models, AZD8055 achieved significantly better tumor growth inhibition and prolonged mouse survival compared to sirolimus or vehicle controls. CONCLUSIONS:Akt/mTOR activation is common in TfRCC and a promising therapeutic target. Dual mTORC1/2 inhibition suppresses Akt/mTOR signaling more effectively than selective mTORC1 inhibition and demonstrates in vivo preclinical efficacy against TFE3-fusion renal cell carcinoma.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Upregulation of PI3K/Akt/mTOR signalling in endocrine-resistant breast cancer (BC) has identified mTOR as an attractive target alongside anti-hormones to control resistance. RAD001 (everolimus/Afinitor®), an allosteric mTOR inhibitor, is proving valuable in this setting; however, some patients are inherently refractory or relapse during treatment requiring alternative strategies. Here we evaluate the potential for novel dual mTORC1/2 mTOR kinase inhibitors, exemplified by AZD8055, by comparison with RAD001 in ER?+?endocrine resistant BC cells. METHODS:In vitro models of tamoxifen (TamR) or oestrogen deprivation resistance (MCF7-X) were treated with RAD001 or AZD8055 alone or combined with anti-hormone fulvestrant. Endpoints included growth, cell proliferation (Ki67), viability and migration, with PI3K/AKT/mTOR signalling impact monitored by Western blotting. Potential ER cross-talk was investigated by immunocytochemistry and RT-PCR. RESULTS:RAD001 was a poor growth inhibitor of MCF7-derived TamR and MCF7-X cells (IC50 ?1 ?M), rapidly inhibiting mTORC1 but not mTORC2/AKT signalling. In contrast AZD8055, which rapidly inhibited both mTORC1 and mTORC2/AKT activity, was a highly effective (P?<0.001) growth inhibitor of TamR (IC50 18?nM) and MCF7-X (IC50 24 nM), and of a further T47D-derived tamoxifen resistant model T47D-tamR (IC50 19 nM). AZD8055 significantly (P?<0.05) inhibited resistant cell proliferation, increased cell death and reduced migration. Furthermore, dual treatment of TamR or MCF7-X cells with AZD8055 plus fulvestrant provided superior control of resistant growth versus either agent alone (P?<0.05). Co-treating with AZD8055 alongside tamoxifen (P?<0.01) or oestrogen deprivation (P?<0.05) also effectively inhibited endocrine responsive MCF-7 cells. Although AZD8055 inhibited oestrogen receptor (ER) ser167 phosphorylation in TamR and MCF7-X, it had no effect on ER ser118 activity or expression of several ER-regulated genes, suggesting the mTOR kinase inhibitor impact was largely ER-independent. The capacity of AZD8055 for ER-independent activity was further evidenced by growth inhibition (IC5018 and 20 nM) of two acquired fulvestrant resistant models lacking ER. CONCLUSIONS:This is the first report demonstrating dual mTORC1/2 mTOR kinase inhibitors have potential to control acquired endocrine resistant BC, even under conditions where everolimus fails. Such inhibitors may prove of particular benefit when used alongside anti-hormonal treatment as second-line therapy in endocrine resistant disease, and also potentially alongside anti-hormones during the earlier endocrine responsive phase to hinder development of resistance.
Project description:In chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), patients with unmutated immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region gene (UM-CLL) have worse outcomes than mutated CLL (M-CLL) following chemotherapy or chemoimmunotherapy. However, in the era of BCR-targeted therapies, the adverse prognostic impact of unmutated IGHV seems to be diminishing, and there are clinical datasets showing unexpected improved responses in UM-CLL. We investigated the biological differences of BTK activity between these subgroups and further compared the impact of ibrutinib on molecular and cellular behaviors. Immunoblotting analysis revealed that phosphorylated active BTK is significantly higher in UM-CLL. Moreover, UM-CLL, compared to M-CLL, displayed a much higher proliferative capacity that was correlated with higher phospho-BTK and greater sensitivity to ibrutinib. In addition, BTK depletion with siRNA led to a more prominent reduction in the proliferation of UM-CLL, suggesting that elevated BTK activity is responsible for increased cell proliferation. Further, cell signaling activity by multiple measurements was consistently higher in UM-CLL accompanied by a higher sensitivity to ibrutinib. These studies link UM-CLL to elevated BCR signaling, heightened BTK-dependent cell proliferation and increased sensitivity to ibrutinib. The prognostic significance of IGHV mutation should be reevaluated in the era of new therapies targeting BCR signaling.
Project description:Adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) has a poor prognosis as a result of severe immunosuppression and rapid tumor progression with resistance to conventional chemotherapy. Recent integrated-genome analysis has revealed mutations in many genes involved in the T-cell signaling pathway, suggesting that the aberration of this pathway is an important factor in ATL pathogenesis and ATL-cell proliferation. We screened a siRNA library to examine signaling-pathway functionality and found that the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway is critical to ATL-cell proliferation. We therefore investigated the effect of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors, including the dual inhibitors PP242 and AZD8055 and the mTORC1 inhibitors rapamycin and everolimus, on human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1)-infected-cell and ATL-cell lines. Both dual inhibitors inhibited the proliferation of all tested cell lines by inducing G1-phase cell-cycle arrest and subsequent cell apoptosis, whereas the effects of the 2 mTORC1 inhibitors were limited, as they did not induce cell apoptosis. In the ATL-cell lines and in the primary ATL samples, both dual inhibitors inhibited phosphorylation of AKT at serine-473, a target of mTORC2, as well as that of S6K, whereas the mTORC1 inhibitors only inhibited mTORC1. Furthermore, AZD8055 more significantly inhibited the in vivo growth of the ATL-cell xenografts than did everolimus. These results indicate that the PI3K/mTOR pathway is critical to ATL-cell proliferation and might thus be a new therapeutic target in ATL.
Project description:Ibrutinib is the first in-class, orally administered, Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor that abrogates the critical signaling downstream of the B-cell receptor (BCR). This signaling is required for B-cell survival, proliferation and interaction with the microenvironment. Ibrutinib proved active in preclinical models of lymphoproliferative diseases and achieved impressive response rates in heavily pretreated relapsed and refractory (R/R) patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Ibrutinib prolonged survival compared to standard therapy and mitigated the effect of most poor prognostic factors in CLL, thus becoming the main therapeutic option in high-risk populations. Moreover, compared with standard chemoimmunotherapy (CIT) for adults, ibrutinib causes fewer cytopenias and infections, while having its own unique toxicity profile. Its efficacy in relapsed patients as well as its tolerability have led to its increased use in previously untreated patients, especially in those with poor prognostic markers and/or the elderly. This review elaborates on ibrutinib's unique toxicity profile and the mechanisms of acquired resistance leading to progression on ibrutinib, since both are critical for understanding the obstacles to its first-line use. We will further evaluate the data from ongoing clinical trials in this setting and explore future options for combination therapy.
Project description:Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells depend on microenvironmental factors for proliferation and survival. In particular, tissue-resident CLL cells show prominent activation of both B-cell receptor (BCR) and NF-κB pathways. We evaluated the in vivo effects of ibrutinib, a Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor on tumor cell activation and proliferation in the blood, lymph node, and bone marrow of patients with CLL. Applying validated pathway-specific gene signatures, we detected a rapid and sustained downregulation of BCR and NF-κB signaling in CLL cells from both the peripheral blood and tissue compartments during ibrutinib treatment. Ibrutinib reduced phosphorylation of PLCγ2 and ERK and decreased nuclear protein expression of NF-κB p50. Ibrutinib significantly decreased tumor proliferation and expression of surface activation markers CD69 and CD86, independent of prognostic factors such as IGHV mutational status, chromosome 17p deletion, or prior treatment history. Interestingly, stronger inhibition of BCR signaling in lymph node resident CLL cells after one dose of ibrutinib was associated with a higher rate of nodal response at the end of cycle 2. Together, these data validate on-target effects of BTK inhibition in the tissue compartments and demonstrate that ibrutinib effectively inhibits pathways that promote tumor cell activation and proliferation in vivo. This study is registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT01500733.
Project description:Treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia has advanced substantially as our understanding of the kinase signal transduction pathways driven by the B cell receptor (BcR) has developed. Particularly, understanding the role of Bruton tyrosine kinase and phosphatidyl inositol 3 kinase delta in driving prosurvival signal transduction in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells and their targeting with pharmacological inhibitors (ibrutinib and idelalisib, respectively) has improved patient outcomes significantly. The kinase signaling pathway induced by the BcR is highly complex and has multiple interconnecting branches mediated by tyrosine and serine/threonine kinases activated downstream of the BcR. There is a high level of redundancy in the biological responses, with several BcR-signaling kinases driving nuclear factor kappa B activation or inducing antiapoptotic Bcl-2 genes. Accordingly, common gene targets of BcR-signaling kinases may serve as biomarkers indicating enhanced BCR-signaling and aggressive disease progression. This study used a gene expression correlation analysis of malignant B cell lines and primary CLL cells to identify genes whose expression correlated with BCR-signaling kinases overexpressed and/or overactivated in CLL, namely: AKT1, AKT2, BTK, MAPK1, MAPK3, PI3KCD and ZAP70. The analysis identified a 32-gene signature with a strong prognostic potential and DNPEP, the gene coding for aspartic aminopeptidase, as a predictor of aggressive CLL. DNPEP gene expression correlated with MAPK3, PI3KCD, and ZAP70 expression and, in the primary CLL test dataset, showed a strong prognostic potential. The inhibition of DNPEP with a pharmacological inhibitor enhanced the cytotoxic potential of idelalisib and ibrutinib, indicating a biological functionality of DNPEP in CLL. DNPEP, as an aminopeptidase, contributes to the maintenance of the free amino acid pool in CLL cells found to be an essential process for the survival of many cancer cell types, and thus, these results warrant further research into the exploitation of aminopeptidase inhibitors in the treatment of drug-resistant CLL.
Project description:B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling is essential for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cell survival. Many kinases in the BCR signaling pathway are being studied as potential therapeutic targets. Ibrutinib (PCI-32765) is a novel first-in-class selective inhibitor of Bruton tyrosine kinase. Preclinical evidence suggests that ibrutinib inhibits CLL cell survival and proliferation and affects CLL cell migration and homing. Early clinical data in patients with CLL and non-Hodgkin lymphoma is encouraging. It is likely that ibrutinib and other drugs targeting the BCR pathway will become an integral component of CLL therapy.