Combination of PI3K and MEK inhibitors yields durable remission in PDX models of PIK3CA-mutated metaplastic breast cancers.
ABSTRACT: 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:Metaplastic breast cancer (MBC) is a rare special histologic type of triple-negative breast cancer, characterized by the presence of neoplastic cells showing differentiation towards squamous epithelium and/or mesenchymal elements. Here we sought to define whether histologically distinct subgroups of MBCs would be underpinned by distinct genomic and/or transcriptomic alterations. Microarray-based copy number profiling identified limited but significant differences between the distinct MBC subtypes studied here, despite the limited sample size (n?=?17). In particular, we found that, compared to MBCs with chondroid or squamous cell metaplasia, MBCs with spindle cell differentiation less frequently harbored gain of 7q11.22-23 encompassing CLDN3 and CLDN4, consistent with their lower expression of claudins and their association with the claudin-low molecular classification. Microarray-based and RNA-sequencing-based gene expression profiling revealed that MBCs with spindle cell differentiation differ from MBCs with chondroid or squamous cell metaplasia on the expression of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition-related genes, including down-regulation of CDH1 and EPCAM. In addition, RNA-sequencing revealed that the histologic patterns observed in MBCs are unlikely to be underpinned by a highly recurrent expressed fusion gene or a pathognomonic expressed mutation in cancer genes. Loss of PTEN expression or mutations affecting PIK3CA or TSC2 observed in 8/17 MBCs support the contention that PI3K pathway activation plays a role in the development of MBCs. Our data demonstrate that despite harboring largely similar patterns of gene copy number alterations, MBCs with spindle cell, chondroid and squamous differentiation are distinct at the transcriptomic level but are unlikely to be defined by specific pathognomonic genetic alterations.
Project description:Mesothelioma is a notoriously chemotherapy-resistant neoplasm, as is evident in the dismal overall survival for patients with those of asbestos-associated disease. We previously demonstrated co-activation of multiple receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), including epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), MET, and AXL in mesothelioma cell lines, suggesting that these kinases could serve as novel therapeutic targets. Although clinical trials have not shown activity for EGFR inhibitors in mesothelioma, concurrent inhibition of various activated RTKs has pro-apoptotic and anti-proliferative effects in mesothelioma cell lines. Thus, we hypothesised that a coordinated network of multi-RTK activation contributes to mesothelioma tumorigenesis.Activation of PI3K/AKT/mTOR, Raf/MAPK, and co-activation of RTKs were evaluated in mesotheliomas. Effects of RTK and downstream inhibitors/shRNAs were assessed by measuring mesothelioma cell viability/growth, apoptosis, activation of signalling intermediates, expression of cell-cycle checkpoints, and cell-cycle alterations.We demonstrate activation of the PI3K/AKT/p70S6K and RAF/MEK/MAPK pathways in mesothelioma, but not in non-neoplastic mesothelial cells. The AKT activation, but not MAPK activation, was dependent on coordinated activation of RTKs EGFR, MET, and AXL. In addition, PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway inhibition recapitulated the anti-proliferative effects of concurrent inhibition of EGFR, MET, and AXL. Dual targeting of PI3K/mTOR by BEZ235 or a combination of RAD001 and AKT knockdown had a greater effect on mesothelioma proliferation and viability than inhibition of individual activated RTKs or downstream signalling intermediates. Inhibition of PI3K/AKT was also associated with MDM2-p53 cell-cycle regulation.These findings show that PI3K/AKT/mTOR is a crucial survival pathway downstream of multiple activated RTKs in mesothelioma, underscoring that PI3K/mTOR is a compelling target for therapeutic intervention.
Project description: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: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:Metaplastic breast cancers (MBC) are aggressive, chemoresistant tumors characterized by lineage plasticity. To advance understanding of their pathogenesis and relatedness to other breast cancer subtypes, 28 MBCs were compared with common breast cancers using comparative genomic hybridization, transcriptional profiling, and reverse-phase protein arrays and by sequencing for common breast cancer mutations. MBCs showed unique DNA copy number aberrations compared with common breast cancers. PIK3CA mutations were detected in 9 of 19 MBCs (47.4%) versus 80 of 232 hormone receptor-positive cancers (34.5%; P = 0.32), 17 of 75 HER-2-positive samples (22.7%; P = 0.04), 20 of 240 basal-like cancers (8.3%; P < 0.0001), and 0 of 14 claudin-low tumors (P = 0.004). Of 7 phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/AKT pathway phosphorylation sites, 6 were more highly phosphorylated in MBCs than in other breast tumor subtypes. The majority of MBCs displayed mRNA profiles different from those of the most common, including basal-like cancers. By transcriptional profiling, MBCs and the recently identified claudin-low breast cancer subset constitute related receptor-negative subgroups characterized by low expression of GATA3-regulated genes and of genes responsible for cell-cell adhesion with enrichment for markers linked to stem cell function and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In contrast to other breast cancers, claudin-low tumors and most MBCs showed a significant similarity to a "tumorigenic" signature defined using CD44(+)/CD24(-) breast tumor-initiating stem cell-like cells. MBCs and claudin-low tumors are thus enriched in EMT and stem cell-like features, and may arise from an earlier, more chemoresistant breast epithelial precursor than basal-like or luminal cancers. PIK3CA mutations, EMT, and stem cell-like characteristics likely contribute to the poor outcomes of MBC and suggest novel therapeutic targets.
Project description:Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) activate pathways mediated by serine-threonine kinases, such as the PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase)-Akt pathway, the Ras-MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase)-RSK (ribosomal S6 kinase) pathway, and the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin)-p70 S6 pathway, that control important aspects of cell growth, proliferation, and survival. The Akt, RSK, and p70 S6 family of protein kinases transmits signals by phosphorylating substrates on an RxRxxS/T motif (R, arginine; S, serine; T, threonine; and x, any amino acid). We developed a large-scale proteomic approach to identify more than 300 substrates of this kinase family in cancer cell lines driven by the c-Met, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), or platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRalpha) RTKs. We identified a subset of proteins with RxRxxS/T sites for which phosphorylation was decreased by RTK inhibitors (RTKIs), as well as by inhibitors of the PI3K, mTOR, and MAPK pathways, and we determined the effects of small interfering RNA directed against these substrates on cell viability. Phosphorylation of the protein chaperone SGTA (small glutamine-rich tetratricopeptide repeat-containing protein alpha) at serine-305 was essential for PDGFRalpha stabilization and cell survival in PDGFRalpha-dependent cancer cells. Our approach provides a new view of RTK and Akt-RSK-S6 kinase signaling, revealing previously unidentified Akt-RSK-S6 kinase substrates that merit further consideration as targets for combination therapy with RTKIs.
Project description:Metaplastic breast carcinoma (MBC) is a heterogeneous group of infrequent invasive carcinomas that display differentiation of the neoplastic epithelium towards squamous cells and/or mesenchymal-type elements. Most MBC have a triple negative phenotype and poor prognosis. Thus, MBC have worse survival rates than other invasive breast carcinomas, including other triple negative breast carcinomas (TNBC). In this study, we reviewed the molecular features of MBC, pointing out the differences among subtypes. The most frequently mutated genes in MBC were TP53 and PIK3CA. Additionally, mutations in the other genes of the PI3K/AKT pathway indicated its importance in the pathogenesis of MBC. Regarding copy number variations (CNVs), MYC was the most frequently amplified gene, and the most frequent gene loss affected the CDKN2A/CDKN2B locus. Furthermore, the pattern of mutations and CNVs of MBC differed from those reported in other TNBC. However, the molecular profile of MBC was not homogeneous among histological subtypes, being the alterations in the PI3K pathway most frequent in spindle cell carcinomas. Transcriptomic studies have demonstrated an epithelial to mesenchymal program activation and the enrichment of stemness genes in most MBC. In addition, current studies are attempting to define the immune microenvironment of these tumors. In conclusion, due to specific molecular features, MBC have a different clinical behavior from other types of TNBC, being more resistant to standard chemotherapy. For this reason, new therapeutic approaches based on tumor molecular characteristics are needed to treat MBC.
Project description:SNP6 profiling of metaplastic breast carcinoma Metaplastic breast carcinoma (MBC) is a rare and aggressive histologic type of breast cancer, preferentially displaying a triple-negative phenotype (i.e. lacking estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and HER2 expression). We sought to define the transcriptomic heterogeneity of MBCs on the basis of current gene expression microarray-based classifiers and to determine whether MBCs display gene copy number profiles consistent with those of BRCA1-associated breast cancers.
Project description:Gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) originates from interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs) in the myenteric plexus of the gastrointestinal tract. Most GISTs arise due to mutations of KIT and PDGFRA gene activation, encoding the receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK). The clinical use of the RTK inhibitor imatinib has significantly improved the management of GIST patients; however, imatinib resistance remains a challenge. The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (AKT)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is a critical survival pathway for cell proliferation, apoptosis, autophagy and translation in neoplasms. Constitutive autophosphorylation of RTKs has an impact on the activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. In several preclinical and early-stage clinical trials PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling inhibition has been considered as a promising targeted therapy strategy for GISTs. Various inhibitory drugs targeting different parts of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway are currently being investigated in phase I and phase II clinical trials. This review highlights the progress for PI3K/AKT/mTOR-dependent mechanisms in GISTs, and explores the relationship between mTOR downstream signals, in particular, eukaryotic initiation factors (eIFs) and the development of GISTs, which may be instrumental for identifying novel therapeutic targets.