Differential gene expression and AKT targeting in triple negative breast cancer.
ABSTRACT: Background: Metastatic triple negative breast cancer (mTNBC) is a heterogeneous disease with poor prognosis. Molecular evolution of TNBC through chemotherapy selection pressure is well recognized but poorly understood. PI3K/AKT/mTOR is one of the most commonly identified oncogenic-driver pathways in breast cancer. The current study is designed to understand the genomic and transcriptomic changes, focusing on the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway alterations in paired primary and metastatic TNBCs. Results: Genomic analysis of 7 paired specimens identified 67 known mutations including those from the following signaling pathways: cell cycle, p53, PI3K/AKT/mTOR, RAS/MAPK, and RTK/GF. Principle coordinate analysis (PCoA) identified 4 distinctive molecular groups based on the gene expression patterns of PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. Key differentially-expressed genes included AKT3, GSK3B, GNA11, PI3KR1, and GNAQ. Importantly, AKT-targeted therapy showed efficacy in a patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model of TNBC in vivo. Conclusion: Genomic discordance of paired primary and metastatic TNBCs was identified, with significant increase in tumor proliferation pathways seen in metastases. Among the differentially expressed genes, AKT3 can potentially serve as a target for novel combination therapy for treatment of metastatic TNBC. Methods: Paired specimens from 10 patients with TNBCs were identified through an IRB-approved protocol (2002-2015). FoundationOneTM sequencing was performed for genomic profiling, and Affymetrix Human Genechip 2.0st was used for mRNA expression profiling. The similarity among samples was calculated based on Pearson correlation coefficients, which were used to construct hierarchical clustering and heat maps.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is aggressive with limited treatment options upon recurrence. Molecular discordance between primary and metastatic TNBC has been observed, but the degree of biological heterogeneity has not been fully explored. Furthermore, genomic evolution through treatment is poorly understood. In this study, we aim to characterize the genomic changes between paired primary and metastatic TNBCs through transcriptomic and genomic profiling, and to identify genomic alterations which may contribute to chemotherapy resistance. METHODS:Genomic alterations and mRNA expression of 10 paired primary and metastatic TNBCs were determined through targeted sequencing, microarray analysis, and RNA sequencing. Commonly mutated genes, as well as differentially expressed and co-expressed genes were identified. We further explored the clinical relevance of differentially expressed genes between primary and metastatic tumors to patient survival using large public datasets. RESULTS:Through gene expression profiling, we observed a shift in TNBC subtype classifications between primary and metastatic TNBCs. A panel of eight cancer driver genes (CCNE1, TPX2, ELF3, FANCL, JAK2, GSK3B, CEP76, and SYK) were differentially expressed in recurrent TNBCs, and were also overexpressed in TCGA and METABRIC. CCNE1 and TPX2 were co-overexpressed in TNBCs. DNA mutation profiling showed that multiple mutations occurred in genes comprising a number of potentially targetable pathways including PI3K/AKT/mTOR, RAS/MAPK, cell cycle, and growth factor receptor signaling, reaffirming the wide heterogeneity of mechanisms driving TNBC. CCNE1 amplification was associated with poor overall survival in patients with metastatic TNBC. CONCLUSIONS:CCNE1 amplification may confer resistance to chemotherapy and is associated with poor overall survival in TNBC.
Project description:Purpose Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) offers the potential for minimally invasive genome-wide profiling of tumor alterations without tumor biopsy and may be associated with patient prognosis. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is characterized by few mutations but extensive somatic copy number alterations (SCNAs), yet little is known regarding SCNAs in metastatic TNBC. We sought to evaluate SCNAs in metastatic TNBC exclusively via cfDNA and determine if cfDNA tumor fraction is associated with overall survival in metastatic TNBC. Patients and Methods In this retrospective cohort study, we identified 164 patients with biopsy-proven metastatic TNBC at a single tertiary care institution who received prior chemotherapy in the (neo)adjuvant or metastatic setting. We performed low-coverage genome-wide sequencing of cfDNA from plasma. Results Without prior knowledge of tumor mutations, we determined tumor fraction of cfDNA for 96.3% of patients and SCNAs for 63.9% of patients. Copy number profiles and percent genome altered were remarkably similar between metastatic and primary TNBCs. Certain SCNAs were more frequent in metastatic TNBCs relative to paired primary tumors and primary TNBCs in publicly available data sets The Cancer Genome Atlas and METABRIC, including chromosomal gains in drivers NOTCH2, AKT2, and AKT3. Prespecified cfDNA tumor fraction threshold of ≥ 10% was associated with significantly worse metastatic survival (median, 6.4 v 15.9 months) and remained significant independent of clinicopathologic factors (hazard ratio, 2.14; 95% CI, 1.4 to 3.8; P < .001). Conclusion We present the largest genomic characterization of metastatic TNBC to our knowledge, exclusively from cfDNA. Evaluation of cfDNA tumor fraction was feasible for nearly all patients, and tumor fraction ≥ 10% is associated with significantly worse survival in this large metastatic TNBC cohort. Specific SCNAs are enriched and prognostic in metastatic TNBC, with implications for metastasis, resistance, and novel therapeutic approaches.
Project description:Increasing attentions have been paid to the role of circRNAs in the etiology of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), and we strived to figure out the association of circRNA AKT3/miRNA axis with TNBC chemo-resistance. Altogether 207 BC patients were divided into TNBC group (n=83) and non-TNBC group (n=124), and MCF-10A, MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-468, SK-BR-3 and MCF-7 cell lines were prepared in advance. Expressions of AKT3-derived circRNAs and relevant miRNAs in the TNBC tissues and cell lines were determined by employing real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). It was indicated that hsa_circ_0000199 expression was higher in TNBC tissues than in non-TNBC tissues, and high hsa_circ_0000199 expression was predictive of large tumor size, advanced TNM grade, high Ki-67 level and poor 3-year survival of TNBC patients (all <i>P</i><0.05). Furthermore, miR-613 and miR-206 were sponged and negatively regulated by hsa_circ_0000199 (<i>P</i><0.001), and PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling was depressed by si-hsa_circ_0000199 in TNBC cell lines (<i>P</i><0.01). Ultimately, miR-206/miR-613 inhibitor reversed impacts of si-hsa_circ_0000199 on PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling, proliferation, migration, invasion, chemo-sensitivity and autophagy of TNBC cells (all <i>P</i><0.01). Conclusively, silencing of hsa_circ_0000199 enhanced TNBC chemo-sensitivity by promoting miR-206/miR-613 expression and deactivating PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling, which was conducive to improving chemotherapeutic efficacy of TNBC patients.
Project description: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:BACKGROUND:Metaplastic breast cancer (MBC) is a rare form of breast cancer characterized by an aggressive clinical presentation, with a poor response to standard chemotherapy. MBCs are typically triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs), frequently with alterations to genes of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR and RTK-MAPK signaling pathways. The objective of this study was to determine the response to PI3K and MAPK pathway inhibitors in patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) of MBCs with targetable alterations. METHODS:We compared survival between triple-negative MBCs and other histological subtypes, in a clinical cohort of 323 TNBC patients. PDX models were established from primary breast tumors classified as MBC. PI3K-AKT-mTOR and RTK-MAPK pathway alterations were detected by targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) and analyses of copy number alterations. Activation of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR and RTK-MAPK signaling pathways was analyzed with reverse-phase protein arrays (RPPA). PDXs carrying an activating mutation of PIK3CA and genomic changes to the RTK-MAPK signaling pathways were treated with a combination consisting of a PI3K inhibitor and a MEK inhibitor. RESULTS:In our clinical cohort, the patients with MBC had a worse prognosis than those with other histological subtypes. We established nine metaplastic TNBC PDXs. Three had a pathogenic mutation of PIK3CA and additional alterations to genes associated with RTK-MAPK signaling. The MBC PDXs expressed typical EMT and stem cell genes and were of the mesenchymal or mesenchymal stem-like TNBC subtypes. On histological analysis, MBC PDXs presented squamous or chondroid differentiation. RPPA analysis showed activation of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR and RTK-MAPK signaling pathways. In vivo, the combination of PI3K and MAPK inhibitors displayed marked antitumor activity in PDXs carrying genomic alterations of PIK3CA, AKT1, BRAF, and FGFR4. CONCLUSION:The treatment of metaplastic breast cancer PDXs by activation of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR and RTK-MAPK pathways at the genomic and protein levels with a combination of PI3K and MEK inhibitors resulted in tumor regression in mutated models and may therefore be of interest for therapeutic purposes.
Project description:This study reports a relationship between Akt3 expression and tissue-specific regulation of the pI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway by copaiba essential oil. Akt3, a protein kinase B isoform important for the regulation of neuronal development, exhibited differential expression levels in cells of various origins. In neuronal and microglial cells, where Akt3 is present, copaiba essential oil positively regulated the pI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway. In contrast, in liver cells and T lymphocytes, where Akt3 is absent, copaiba essential oil negatively regulated the pI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway. The expression of Akt3 via plasmid DNA in liver cells led to positive regulatory effects by copaiba essential oil on the pI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway. In contrast, inhibition of Akt3 expression in neuronal cells via small interfering RNA molecules targeting Akt3 transcripts abrogated the regulatory effects of copaiba essential oil on the pI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway. Interestingly, Akt3 expression did not impact the regulatory effects of copaiba essential oil on other signaling pathways. For example, copaiba essential oil consistently upregulated the MAPK and JAK/STAT signaling pathways in all evaluated cell types, independent of the Akt3 expression level. Collectively, the data indicated that Akt3 expression was required for the positive regulatory effects of copaiba essential oil, specifically on the pI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway.
Project description:Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) are unlikely to respond to hormonal therapies and anti-HER2-targeted therapies. TNBCs overexpress EGFR and exhibit constitutive activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signalling pathway. We hypothesized that simultaneously blocking EGFR and mTOR could be a potential therapeutic strategy for the treatment of TNBC. We examined the antitumour activity of the mTOR inhibitor everolimus combined with the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib in TNBC cell with or without activating mutations in the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signalling pathway. We demonstrated that everolimus and gefitinib induced synergistic growth inhibition in the PI3K and PTEN-mutant CAL-51 cell line but not in the PTEN-null HCC-1937 cell line. The antiproliferative effect was associated with synergistic inhibition of mTOR and P70S6K phosphorylation, as well as a significant reduction in 4E-BP1 activation in the CAL-51 cell line. We also showed that combination therapy significantly inhibited cell cycle progression and increased apoptosis in this cell line. Gene and protein expression analysis revealed significant downregulation of cell cycle regulators after exposure to combined treatment. Collectively, these results suggested that dual inhibition of mTOR and EGFR may be an effective treatment for TNBC with activating mutations of PI3K.
Project description:Background:Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is a fatal disease, in which the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway serves an important role in the tumorigenesis. Previous studies have reported the prognostic significance of PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway members in RCC; however, there is insufficient evidence to date to confirm this. Thus, the present study aimed to systematically investigate the prognostic roles of multiple PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling proteins in clear cell RCC (ccRCC) using online large-scale databases. Methods:The mRNA expression profiles of PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway proteins PTEN, PIK3CA, PIK3CB, PIK3CD, PIK3CG, AKT1, AKT2, AKT3 and mTOR were investigated using the Gene Expression Profiling Interactive Analysis (GEPIA) and Oncomine databases, and the protein expression levels of PI3K, AKT and mTOR were detected using western blotting (WB) analysis. In addition, the correlation between mRNA or protein expression levels and the prognostic significance was analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier (K-M) plotter (n = 530), the Human Protein Atlas (HPA; n = 528) and The Cancer Protein Atlas (TCPA; n = 445) databases. Results:The GEPIA revealed that the mRNA expression of major PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway members, including PTEN, PIK3CA, PIK3CB, AKT1, AKT2 and AKT3, were negatively correlated with ccRCC stages (P < 0.05), though most of their mRNA and protein expression levels were notsignificantly different between ccRCC and normal tissues using GEPIA, Oncomine and WB analyses (P < 0.05). Meanwhile, using the K-M plotter and HPA prognostic analysis, it was found that the mRNA expression levels of the majority of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway members, including PTEN, PIK3CA, PIK3CB, PIK3CG, AKT3 and mTOR were positively correlated with overall survival (OS), whereas PIK3CD mRNA expression was negatively correlated with OS (P < 0.05). Furthermore, TCPA prognostic analysis observed that several of the key molecules of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway [PTEN, p-AKT (S473) and p-mTOR (S2448)] were also positively correlated with OS in patients with ccRCC (P < 0.05). In conclusion, the present study suggested that several members of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway, especially PTEN, may be favorable prognostic factors in ccRCC, which indicated that the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway may be implicated in ccRCC initiation and progression.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The RTK/PI3K/AKT pathway plays key roles in the development and progression of many cancers, including GBM. As a regulatory molecule and a potential drug target, the oncogenic role of AKT has been substantially studied. Three isoforms of AKT have been identified, including AKT1, AKT2 and AKT3, but their individual functions in GBM remain controversial. Moreover, it is not known if there are more AKT alternative splicing variants. METHODS:High-throughput RNA sequencing and quantitative reverse transcription-PCR were used to identify the differentially expressed circRNAs in GBM samples and in paired normal tissues. High throughput RNA sequencing was used to identify circ-AKT3 regulated signaling pathways. Mass spectrometry, western blotting and immunofluorescence staining analyses were used to validate AKT3-174aa expression. The tumor suppressive role of AKT3-174aa was validated in vitro and in vivo. The competing interaction between AKT3-174aa and p-PDK1 was investigated by mass spectrometry and immunoprecipitation analyses. RESULTS:Circ-AKT3 is a previously uncharacterized AKT transcript variant. Circ-AKT3 is expressed at low levels in GBM tissues compared with the expression in paired adjacent normal brain tissues. Circ-AKT3 encodes a 174 amino acid (aa) novel protein, which we named AKT3-174aa, by utilizing overlapping start-stop codons. AKT3-174aa overexpression decreased the cell proliferation, radiation resistance and in vivo tumorigenicity of GBM cells, while the knockdown of circ-AKT3 enhanced the malignant phenotypes of astrocytoma cells. AKT3-174aa competitively interacts with phosphorylated PDK1, reduces AKT-thr308 phosphorylation, and plays a negative regulatory role in modulating the PI3K/AKT signal intensity. CONCLUSIONS:Our data indicate that the impaired circRNA expression of the AKT3 gene contributes to GBM tumorigenesis, and our data corroborate the hypothesis that restoring AKT3-174aa while inhibiting activated AKT may provide more benefits for certain GBM patients.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a heterogeneous disease with subtypes having different "targetable" molecular aberrations. Metaplastic breast cancers (MpBCs) are typically TNBCs and commonly have alterations in the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway. We previously reported efficacy for an mTOR-based chemotherapy regimen in MpBC. To determine if tumor subtype influences prognosis, we compared treatment outcomes of patients with MpBC with those of patients with nonmetaplastic TNBC receiving an mTOR-based systemic therapy regimen. PATIENTS AND METHODS:Patients with advanced MpBC and nonmetaplastic TNBC were treated at our institution from April 16, 2009, through November 4, 2014, using mTOR inhibition (temsirolimus or everolimus) with liposomal doxorubicin and bevacizumab (DAT/DAE). Median progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method. Cox regression analyses were used to evaluate associations between tumor histology and outcomes. Multivariable models were adjusted for all covariates. RESULTS:Fourteen patients with nonmetaplastic TNBC and 59 patients with advanced MpBC were treated with DAT/DAE. MpBC patients were older (p = .002) and less likely to have a history of bevacizumab use (p = .023). Median PFS for the nonmetaplastic TNBC and MpBC patients was 2.5 months and 4.8 months, respectively. This difference in PFS was statistically significant on univariable (p = .006) but not multivariable analysis (p = .087). Median OS for the nonmetaplastic TNBC and MpBC patients was 3.7 months and 10.0 months, respectively (p = .0003). MpBC remained significantly associated with improved OS on multivariable analysis (p < .0001). CONCLUSION:In our study, DAT/DAE appeared to be more effective in MpBC compared with nonmetaplastic TNBC. These data support patient selection for targeted therapy in TNBC. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE:Metaplastic breast cancers (MpBCs) represent <1% of all breast cancers, demonstrate mesenchymal differentiation, and are typically resistant to chemotherapy. Patients with advanced MpBC treated with an mTOR-based systemic therapy regimen had better long-term outcomes compared with patients with nonmetaplastic triple-negative breast cancer treated with the same regimen, suggesting that metaplastic histology may predict benefit from agents targeting the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway.