Down regulation by siRNA or absence of Hypoxic Inducible Factor (HIF-1α) has been shown to lead to increased sensitivity to glycolytic inhibitors in hypoxic tumor cells. In surveying a number of tumor types for differences in intrinsic levels of HIF under hypoxia we find that the reduction of the upstream pathways of HIF, AKT and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) correlate with increased toxic effects of 2-DG in lung cancer cell lines when treated under hypoxia. Since HIF-1α translation is regulated by the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), we examined the effects of blocking mTOR under hypoxia with an analog of rapamycin (CCI-779) in those cell lines that showed increased mTOR and AKT activity and found that HIF-1α down-regulation coincided with increased 2-DG killing. CCI-779 however was ineffective in increasing 2-DG toxicity in cell lines that do not express HIF. This result supports the hypothesis that although mTOR inhibition leads to blockage of numerous downstream targets, CCI-779 increases the toxicity of 2-DG in hypoxic cells through down-regulation of HIF-1α. Overall, our findings show that CCI-779 hyper-sensitizes hypoxic tumor cells to 2-DG and suggest that the intrinsic expression of AKT, mTOR, and HIF in lung cancer, as well as other tumor types, may be important in dictating the decision on how best to use 2-DG alone or in combination with CCI-799 to kill hypoxic tumor cells clinically.
Stathmin, a microtubule-destabilizing phosphoprotein, is highly expressed in ovarian cancer, but the pathophysiological significance of this protein in ovarian carcinoma cells remains poorly understood. This study reports the involvement of stathmin in the mTOR/HIF-1α/VEGF pathway in ovarian clear cell adenocarcinoma (CCA) during hypoxia. HIF-1α protein and VEGF mRNA levels were markedly elevated in RMG-1 cells, a CCA cell line, cultured under hypoxic conditions. Rapamycin, an inhibitor of mTOR complex 1, reduced the level of HIF-1α and blocked phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 kinase 1 (S6K), a transcriptional regulator of mTOR, demonstrating that hypoxia activates mTOR/S6K/HIF-1α signaling in CCA. Furthermore, stathmin knockdown inhibited hypoxia-induced HIF-1α and VEGF expression and S6K phosphorylation. The silencing of stathmin expression also reduced Akt phosphorylation, a critical event in the mTOR/HIF-1α/VEGF signaling pathway. By contrast, stathmin overexpression upregulated hypoxia-induced HIF-1α and VEGF expression in OVCAR-3 cells, another CCA cell line. In addition, suppression of Akt activation by wortmannin, a phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor, decreased HIF-1α and VEGF expression. These results illustrate that regulation of HIF-1α through the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway is controlled by stathmin in CCA. Our findings point to a new mechanism of stathmin regulation during ovarian cancer.
Despite recent advances in cancer therapies, metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) remains difficult to treat. Most RCCs result from inactivation of the von Hippel Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor, leading to stable expression of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-α (HIF-1α, -2α, -3α) and the induction of downstream target genes, including those responsible for angiogenesis and metastasis. While VHL is inactivated in the majority of RCC cases, expression of the PTEN tumor suppressor is reduced in about 30% of cases. PTEN functions to antagonize PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling, thereby controlling cell growth and survival. Activation of PI3K/Akt/mTOR leads to increased HIF-1α expression in certain cancer cells, supporting the rationale of using mTOR inhibitors as anti-cancer agents. Notably, HIF-2α, rather than HIF-1α, has been shown to play a critical role in renal tumorigenesis. To investigate whether HIF-2α is similarly regulated by the PI3K pathway in VHL−/− RCC cells, we manipulated PI3K signaling using PTEN overexpression and siRNA knockdown studies and pharmacologic inhibition of PI3K or Akt. Our data support a novel role for wild-type PTEN in promoting HIF-2α activity in VHL null RCC cells. This mechanism is unique to the cellular environment in which HIF-2α expression is deregulated, resulting from the loss of VHL function. Our data show that PTEN induces HIF-2α transcriptional activity by inhibiting expression of Yin Yang 1 (YY1), which acts as a novel corepressor of HIF-2α. Further, PTEN suppression of YY1 is mediated through antagonism of PI3K signaling. We conclude that wild-type PTEN relieves the repressive nature of YY1 at certain HIF-2α target promoters and that this mechanism may promote early renal tumorigenesis resulting from VHL inactivation by increasing HIF-2α activity.
PTEN; YY1; VHL; HIF-2α; renal cell carcinoma; MT1-MMP
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a heterodimeric transcription factor containing an inducibly expressed HIF-1α subunit and a constititutively expressed HIF-1β subunit. Under hypoxic conditions, the HIF-1α subunit accumulates due to a decrease in the rate of proteolytic degradation, and the resulting HIF-1α-HIF-1β heterodimers undergo posttranslational modifications that promote transactivation. Recent studies suggest that amplified signaling through phosphoinositide 3-kinase, and its downstream target, mTOR, enhances HIF-1-dependent gene expression in certain cell types. In the present study, we have explored further the linkage between mTOR and HIF-1 in PC-3 prostate cancer cells treated with hypoxia or the hypoxia mimetic agent, CoCl2. Pretreatment of PC-3 cells with the mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, inhibited both the accumulation of HIF-1α and HIF-1-dependent transcription induced by hypoxia or CoCl2. Transfection of these cells with wild-type mTOR enhanced HIF-1 activation by hypoxia or CoCl2, while expression of a rapamycin-resistant mTOR mutant rendered both HIF-1α stabilization and HIF-1 transactivating function refractory to inhibition by rapamycin. Studies with GAL4-HIF-1α fusion proteins pinpointed the oxygen-dependent degradation domain as a critical target for the rapamycin-sensitive, mTOR-dependent signaling pathway leading to HIF-1α stabilization by CoCl2. These studies position mTOR as an upstream activator of HIF-1 function in cancer cells and suggest that the antitumor activity of rapamycin is mediated, in part, through the inhibition of cellular responses to hypoxic stress.
The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is activated in the majority of human cancers. This pathway is known to play a key role in numerous cellular functions including proliferation, adhesion, migration, invasion, metabolism, and survival, but in the current review we focus on its role in angiogenesis. PI3K activation may occur via RAS mutation, loss of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), or by increased expression of growth factor receptors such as epidermal growth factor receptor. There is a connection between the PI3K pathway and angiogenesis. Hypoxia leads to HIF-1α stabilization and is a major stimulus for increased vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) production by tumor cells. However, activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway in tumor cells can also increase VEGF secretion, both by hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) dependent and independent mechanisms. The PI3K/AKT pathway also modulates the expression of other angiogenic factors such as nitric oxide and angiopoietins. Numerous inhibitors targeting the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway have been developed, and these agents have been shown to decrease VEGF secretion and angiogenesis. The effect of these inhibitors on tumor vasculature can be difficult to predict. The vasculature of tumors is aberrant, leading to sluggish bloodflow and elevated interstitial blood pressure, which can be perpetuated by the high levels of VEGF. Hence, decreasing VEGF expression can paradoxically lead to vascular normalization and improved bloodflow in some tumors. In addition to its importance in cancer, the PI3K pathway also plays an essential role in the formation of normal blood vessels during development. Embryos with kinase-dead p110α catalytic subunit of PI3K develop vascular defects. Stimulation of endothelial cells by VEGF leads to activation of the PI3K pathway within these cells, which is important for cell migration. Sustained endothelial activation of AKT1 has been shown to induce the formation of structurally abnormal blood vessels that recapitulate the aberrations of tumor vessels. Hence, the PI3K pathway plays an important role in regulating angiogenesis both in normal tissues and in cancers.
angiogenesis; PI3K/AKT/mTOR; VEGF; nitric oxide; angiopoietins
Astragalus polysaccharide is a major component of radix astragali, a vital qi-reinforcing herb medicine with favorable immune-regulating effects. In a previous animal experiment, we demonstrated that astragalus polysaccharide effectively alleviates ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) of cardiac muscle through the regulation of the inflammatory reactions. However, the relationship between this herb and the cohesion molecules on the cell surface remains controversial. In this study, human cardiac microvascular endothelial cells (HCMECs) were used to validate the protective effects of astragalus under an IRI scheme simulated through hypoxia/reoxygenation in vitro. The results indicated that astragalus polysaccharide inhibited the cohesion between HCMECs and polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) during IRI through the downregulation of p38 MAPK signaling and the reduction of cohesive molecule expression in HCMECs.
Angiogenesis in neuroblastoma (NB) correlates with increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and a worse clinical outcome. Other cellular markers, such as Akt activation and MYCN amplification, are also associated with poor prognosis in NB; therefore, we sought to determine the role of N-myc in the regulation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/VEGF pathway. PI3K inhibition, using small-molecule inhibitors or PTEN adenovirus, led to decreased levels of VEGF mRNA and/or protein by reducing phosphorylation of Akt and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), and attenuating hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) expression. Moreover, PI3K inhibition decreased levels of N-myc expression in MYCN-amplified cells. To further clarify the importance of N-myc as a target of PI3K in VEGF regulation, we inhibited N-myc expression by siRNA transfection. MYCN siRNA significantly blocked VEGF secretion, irrespective of serum conditions, in MYCN-amplified NB cells; this effect was enhanced when combined with rapamycin, an mTOR inhibitor. Interestingly, in cells with low N-myc expression, MYCN siRNA reduction of VEGF secretion was only effective with MYCN overexpression or IGF-1 stimulation. Our results show that N-myc plays an important role in the PI3K-mediated VEGF regulation in NB cells. Targeting MYCN, as a novel effector of PI3K-mediated angiogenesis, has significant potential for the treatment of highly vascularized, malignant NB.
angiogenesis; PI3K/Akt; MYCN; VEGF; neuroblastoma
Radix Astragali (Huangqi) has been demonstrated to have a wide range of immunopotentiating effects and has been used as an adjuvant medicine during cancer therapy. Identity issues in the collection of Radix Astragali exist because many sympatric species of Astragalus occur in the northern regions of China. In order to assess the quality, purity, and uniformity of commercial Radix Astragali, 44 samples were purchased from herbal stores in Hong Kong and New York City. The main constituents, including four isoflavonoids and three saponins were quantitatively determined by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS). There was significant sample-to-sample variability in the amounts of the saponins and isoflavonoids measured. Furthermore, DNA barcoding utilizing the variable nuclear ITS spacer regions of the 44 purchased Radix Astragali samples were sequenced, aligned and compared. Eight polymorphic point mutations were identified which separated the Radix Astragali samples into three groups. These results indicate that the chemical and genetic variability that exists among Radix Astragali medicinal products is still a consistency and quality issue for this herbal. Two-way ANOVA analysis showed significant effect on the contents of the seven tested compounds when both phylogenetic and geographic (i.e. point of purchase) factors considered. Therefore, chemical profiles determined by LC-MS and DNA profiles in ITS spacer domains could serve as barcode markers for quality control of Radix Astragali.
This article highlights the current knowledge of mTOR biology and provides new insights into the role of mTOR in different cancers. An active mTOR coordinates a response in cell growth directly through its effects on cell cycle regulators and indirectly by sustaining nutrient supply into the cell through the production of nutrient transporters and also through the promotion of angiogenesis. A primary way that mTOR exerts its regulatory effects on cell proliferation is by controlling the production of cyclin D1. mTOR increases the translation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1)/HIF-2. The HIF transcription factors drive the expression of hypoxic stress response genes, including angiogenic growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), platelet-derived growth factor β (PDGF-β), and transforming growth factor a (TGF-α). mTOR also increases the surface expression of nutrient transporters proteins. An increase in these proteins results in greater uptake of amino acids and other nutrients by the cell leading to adequate nutrient support to abnormal cell growth and survival. There is also emerging evidence that mTOR activation may play a role in promoting cell survival through the activation of antiapoptotic proteins that contribute to tumor progression. Given that the mTOR pathway is deregulated in a number of cancers, it is anticipated that mTOR inhibitors will have broad therapeutic application across many tumor types. Until now, no treatment demonstrated Phase III evidence after disease progression on an initial VEGF-targeted therapy in advanced renal cell carcinoma. Everolimus is the first and only therapy with Phase III evidence after failure of VEGF-targeted therapy. Everolimus is a once-daily, oral inhibitor of mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) indicated for the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma in patients, whose disease has progressed on or after treatment with VEGF-targeted therapy.
Angiogenesis; bioenergetics; everolimus
Hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) monitors the cellular response to the oxygen levels in solid tumors. Under hypoxia conditions, HIF-1α protein is stabilized and forms a heterodimer with the HIF-1β subunit. The HIF-1 complex activates the transcription of numerous target genes in order to adapt the hypoxic environment in human cancer cells. In gastric cancer patients, HIF-1α activation following extended hypoxia strongly correlates with an aggressive tumor phenotype and a poor prognosis. HIF-1α activation has been also reported to occur via hypoxia-independent mechanisms such as PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling and ROS production. This article argues for the critical roles of HIF-1α in glucose metabolism, carcinogenesis, angiogenesis, invasion, metastasis, cell survival and chemoresistance, focusing on gastric cancer.
HIF-1α; hypoxia; gastric cancer
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) exerts neuroprotective effects under hypoxic or ischemic conditions. To explore whether mTOR participates in neuroprotective signaling through regulation of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and neuronal apoptosis in developing rat brain with hypoxia-ischemia (HI), we operated on postnatal day 10 rats by ligating the common carotid artery followed by exposure to systemic hypoxia. Brains were collected at various intervals to detect the expression of mTOR, phosphorylated mTOR (p-mTOR), HIF-1α, VEGF and cleaved caspase 3 (CC3), using immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis. We also used terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-nick end labeling (TUNEL) to detect neuronal apoptosis. The p-mTOR protein expression increased at 2 h after HI, peaked at 8 h, lasted 24 h, and then dropped to the basal level. Also, the expression of HIF-1α and VEGF was significantly enhanced and peaked at 8 h after HI. Up-regulated expression of CC3 was observed at 2 h, peaked at 24 h, and lasted 72 h after HI. Increased neuronal apoptosis is associated with reduced HIF-1α and VEGF expression. Furthermore, pretreatment with rapamycin, a mTOR specific inhibitor, significantly inhibited HIF-1α and VEGF protein after HI. The expression of CC3 and the number of TUNEL-positive cells were up-regulated at 8 h and down-regulated at 24 h after HI in the rapamycin-treated group. Our findings suggest that mTOR may participate in the regulation of HIF-1α, VEGF and neuronal apoptosis, serving neuroprotective functions after HI in developing rat brain.
hypoxia-ischemia; mammalian target of rapamycin; hypoxia-inducible factor-1α; vascular endothelial growth factor; apoptosis
Activation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase pathway is commonly observed in human prostate cancer. Loss of function of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) is associated with the activation of AKT and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) in many cancer cell lines as well as in other model systems. However, activation of mTOR is also dependent of kinases other than AKT. Here, we show that activation of mTOR is not dependent on AKT in a prostate-specific PTEN-deficient mouse model of prostate cancer. Pathway bifurcation of AKT and mTOR was noted in both mouse and human prostate tumors. We demonstrated for the first time that cotargeting mTOR and AKT with ridaforolimus/MK-8669 and M1K-2206, respectively, delivers additive antitumor effects in vivo when compared to single agents. Our preclinical data suggest that the combination of AKT and mTOR inhibitors might be more effective in treating prostate cancer patients than current treatment regimens or either treatment alone.
This study was designed to clarify the mechanism of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) pathway using the cultured cell strain derived from human ovarian clear cell adenocarcinoma (CCA). Everolimus (a derivative of rapamycin)-treated cells and non-treated cells did not show any difference in mTOR expression. But, phosphorylated-mTOR (p-mTOR) expression significantly decreased in the treated cells, and mTOR-related factors such as phosphorylated-4E-BP1 (p-4E-BP1), HIF-1α, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the downstream region of mTOR revealed a marked decrease in expression. The analysis of influences of the drug on the HIF-1α degradation system showed an increase in von-Hippel Lindau (VHL) expression in the treated cells. Increase of cleaved caspase-3, one of key factors involved in apoptosis, was also shown in the treated cells. In the next step, using nude mice implanted with RMG-1 cells, a decrease in tumor size was demonstrated in 4 of the 7 mice which were orally administered with everolimus. As a result, it was suggested that everolimus administration would be helpful as an anti-tumor therapy for CCA not only via down-regulation of p-mTOR but also degradation of HIF-1α by VHL and induction of apoptosis by cleaved caspase-3.
ovary; clear cell carcinoma; mTOR; anti-cancer therapy; rapamycin
The AKT/PI3K/mTOR pathway is frequently altered in a range of human tumours, including bladder cancer. Here we report the phenotype of mice characterised by deletion of two key players in mTOR regulation, Pten and Lkb1, in a range of tissues including the mouse urothelium. Despite widespread recombination within the range of epithelial tissues, the primary phenotype we observe is the rapid onset of bladder tumorigenesis, with median onset of approximately 100 days. Single deletion of either Pten or Lkb1 had no effect on bladder cell proliferation or tumour formation. However, simultaneous deletion of Lkb1 and Pten led to an upregulation of the mTOR pathway and the hypoxia marker GLUT1, increased bladder epithelial cell proliferation and ultimately tumorigenesis. Bladder tissue also exhibited characteristic features of epithelial-mesenchymal transition, with loss of the epithelial markers E-cadherin and the tight junction protein ZO-1, and increases in the mesenchymal marker vimentin as well as nuclear localization of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) regulator Snail. We show that these effects were all dependent upon mTOR activity, as rapamycin treatment blocked both EMT and tumorigenesis. Our data therefore establish clear synergy between Lkb1 and Pten in controlling the mTOR pathway within bladder epithelium, and show that loss of this control leads to the disturbance of epithelial structure, EMT and ultimately tumorigenesis.
Combined activation of Ras and Akt leads to the formation of astrocytic glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in mice. In human GBMs, AKT is not mutated but is activated in approximately 70% of these tumors, in association with loss of PTEN and/or activation of receptor tyrosine kinases. Mechanistic justification for the therapeutic blockade of targets downstream of AKT, such as mTOR, in these cancers requires demonstration that the oncogenic effect of PTEN loss is through elevated AKT activity. We demonstrate here that loss of Pten is similar to Akt activation in the context of glioma formation in mice. We further delineate the role of mTOR activity downstream of Akt in the maintenance of Akt+KRas-induced GBMs. Blockade of mTOR results in regional apoptosis in these tumors and conversion in the character of surviving tumor cells from astrocytoma to oligodendroglioma. These data suggest that mTOR activity is required for the survival of some cells within these GBMs, and mTOR appears required for the maintenance of astrocytic character in the surviving cells. Furthermore, our study provides the first example of conversion between two distinct tumor types usually thought of as belonging to specific lineages, and provides evidence for signal transduction-mediated transdifferentiation between glioma subtypes.
Pten; Akt; mTOR; glioblastoma; survival
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a crucial role in tumor angiogenesis. VEGF expression in metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) is mostly regulated by hypoxia, predominantly via the hypoxia-induced factor (HIF)/Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) pathway. Advances in our knowledge of VEGF role in tumor angiogenesis, growth, and progression have permitted development of new approaches for the treatment of mRCC, including several agents targeting VEGF and VEGF receptors: tyrosine kinase pathway, serine/threonine kinases, α5β1-integrin, deacetylase, CD70, mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), AKT, and phosphatidylinositol 3′-kinase (PI3K). Starting from sorafenib and sunitinib, several targeted therapies have been approved for mRCC treatment, with a long list of agents in course of evaluation, such as tivozanib, cediranib, and VEGF-Trap. Here we illustrate the main steps of tumor angiogenesis process, defining the pertinent therapeutic targets and the efficacy and toxicity profiles of these new promising agents.
Accumulating lines of experimental evidence have revealed that hypoxia-inducible factors, HIF-1α and HIF-2α, are key regulators of the adaptation of cancer- and metastasis-initiating cells and their differentiated progenies to oxygen and nutrient deprivation during cancer progression under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Particularly, the sustained stimulation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R), stem cell factor (SCF) receptor KIT, transforming growth factor-β receptors (TGF-βRs) and Notch and their downstream signalling elements such as phosphatidylinositol 3′-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/molecular target of rapamycin (mTOR) may lead to an enhanced activity of HIFs. Moreover, the up-regulation of HIFs in cancer cells may also occur in the hypoxic intratumoral regions formed within primary and secondary neoplasms as well as in leukaemic cells and metastatic prostate and breast cancer cells homing in the hypoxic endosteal niche of bone marrow. The activated HIFs may induce the expression of numerous gene products such as induced pluripotency-associated transcription factors (Oct-3/4, Nanog and Sox-2), glycolysis- and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) programme-associated molecules, including CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4), snail and twist, microRNAs and angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). These gene products in turn can play critical roles for high self-renewal ability, survival, altered energy metabolism, invasion and metastases of cancer cells, angiogenic switch and treatment resistance. Consequently, the targeting of HIF signalling network and altered metabolic pathways represents new promising strategies to eradicate the total mass of cancer cells and improve the efficacy of current therapies against aggressive and metastatic cancers and prevent disease relapse.
Hypoxia; Hypoxia-inducible factors; Metabolic pathways; Cancer progression; Metastases; Cancer stem/progenitor cells; Cancer-initiating cells; Metastasis-initiating cells; Targeted therapies
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase is an important component of PTEN/PI3K/Akt signaling pathway, which is frequently deregulated in prostate cancer (CaP). Recent studies suggest that targeting PTEN/PI3K/Akt and mTOR signaling pathway could be an effective strategy for the treatment of hormone refractory CaP. Here, we show that the treatment of androgen-independent and PTEN-negative human CaP PC3 cells with fisetin, a dietary flavonoid, resulted in inhibition of mTOR kinase signaling pathway. Treatment of cells with fisetin inhibited mTOR activity and downregulated Raptor, Rictor, PRAS40 and GβL that resulted in loss of mTOR complexes (mTORC)1/2 formation. Fisetin also activated the mTOR repressor TSC2 through inhibition of Akt and activation of AMPK. Fisetin-mediated inhibition of mTOR resulted in hypophosphorylation of 4EBP1 and suppression of Cap-dependent translation. We also found that fisetin treatment leads to induction of autophagic-programmed cell death rather than cytoprotective autophagy as shown by small interfering RNA Beclin1-knockdown and autophagy inhibitor. Taken together, we provide evidence that fisetin functions as a dual inhibitor of mTORC1/2 signaling leading to inhibition of Cap-dependent translation and induction of autophagic cell death in PC3 cells. These results suggest that fisetin could be a useful chemotherapeutic agent in treatment of hormone refractory CaP.
The phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K)-AKT-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is a cellular pathway involved in cell growth, tumorigenesis and cell invasion which is frequently activated in various types of cancer. The downstream effector of the pathway is mTOR which is important in cellular growth and homeostasis and aberrant activation of mTOR has been reported in several types of cancer. The tumor suppressor gene phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) is essential in this pathway for inhibiting tumor invasion and metastasis. However, the involvement of mTOR and PTEN in the progression of human gastric cancer remains to be identified. Immunohistochemical staining was performed to detect the expression of mTOR and PTEN in paraffin-embedded gastric tissue sections obtained from 33 patients with gastric cancer and 30 normal controls. The expressed mTOR was mainly distributed in the cytoplasm, while PTEN was mainly localized to the nucleus. By considering negative mTOR expression with positive PTEN expression as one group and negative PTEN expression with positive mTOR expression as the other, significant statistical differences were observed in various categories, including histological types and metastatic and clinical pathology stages, between the 2 groups (P<0.01 or 0.05). The results indicated that the expression levels of mTOR and PTEN were negatively correlated in the PI3K-AKT-mTOR signaling pathway. Combined detection of mTOR and PTEN expression may be used to evaluate the degree of malignancy in gastric cancer and may be a useful marker for the early diagnosis of gastric cancer.
gastric carcinoma; mTOR; PTEN; immunohistochemistry
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) exhibit impressive activity against advanced renal cell carcinoma. However, recent clinical studies have demonstrated an equivocal response to sunitinib in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer. The tumor suppressor phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) acts as a gatekeeper of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR cell-survival pathway. Our experiments demonstrate that PTEN expression inversely correlates with sunitinib resistance in renal and prostate cancer cells. Restoration of PTEN expression markedly increases sensitivity of tumor cells to sunitinib both in vitro and in vivo. In addition, pharmacologic manipulation of PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling with PI3K/mTOR inhibitor, GDC-0980, mTOR inhibitor, temsirolimus, or pan-Akt inhibitor, GSK690693, was able to overcome sunitinib resistance in cancer cells. Our findings underscore the importance of PTEN expression in relation to sunitinib resistance and imply a direct cytotoxic effect by sunitinib on tumor cells in addition to its anti-angiogenic actions.
PTEN; mTOR; sunitinib; temsirolimus; cancer
Hemangiomas are tumors formed by hyper-proliferation of vascular endothelial cells. This is caused by elevated vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling through VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2). Here we show that elevated VEGF levels produced by hemangioma endothelial cells are reduced by the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin. mTOR activates p70S6K, which controls translation of mRNA to generate proteins such as hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1). VEGF is a known HIF-1 target gene, and our data show that VEGF levels in hemangioma endothelial cells are reduced by HIF-1α siRNA. Over-expression of HIF-1α increases VEGF levels and endothelial cell proliferation. Furthermore, both rapamycin and HIF-1α siRNA reduce proliferation of hemangioma endothelial cells. These data suggest that mTOR and HIF-1 contribute to hemangioma endothelial cell proliferation by stimulating an autocrine loop of VEGF signaling. Furthermore, mTOR and HIF-1 may be therapeutic targets for the treatment of hemangiomas.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A inhibitors exhibit unseen high responses and toxicity in recurrent epithelial ovarian cancer suggesting an important role for the VEGF/VEGFR pathway. We studied the correlation of VEGF signalling and AKT/mTOR signalling. Using a tissue microarray of clinical samples (N=86), tumour cell immunohistochemical staining of AKT/mTOR downstream targets, pS6 and p4E-BP1, together with tumour cell staining of VEGF-A and pVEGFR2 were semi-quantified. A correlation was found between the marker for VEGFR2 activation (pVEGFR2) and a downstream target of AKT/mTOR signalling (pS6) (R=0.29; P=0.002). Additional gene expression analysis in an independent cDNA microarray dataset (N=24) showed a negative correlation (R=−0.73, P<0.0001) between the RPS6 and the VEGFR2 gene, which is consistent as the gene expression and phosphorylation of S6 is inversely regulated. An activated tumour cell VEGFR2/AKT/mTOR pathway was associated with increased incidence of ascites (χ2, P=0.002) and reduced overall survival of cisplatin–taxane-based patients with serous histology (N=32, log-rank test, P=0.04). These data propose that VEGF-A signalling acts on tumour cells as a stimulator of the AKT/mTOR pathway. Although VEGF-A inhibitors are classified as anti-angiogenic drugs, these data suggest that the working mechanism has an important additional modality of targeting the tumour cells directly.
mTOR; VEGFR2; angiogenesis; autocrine; VEGF-A; ovarian cancer
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a transcriptional activator composed of HIF-1α and HIF-1β subunits. Several dozen HIF-1 targets are known, including the gene encoding vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Under hypoxic conditions, HIF-1α expression increases as a result of decreased ubiquitination and degradation. The tumor suppressors VHL (von Hippel-Lindau protein) and p53 target HIF-1α for ubiquitination such that their inactivation in tumor cells increases the half-life of HIF-1α. Increased phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and AKT or decreased PTEN activity in prostate cancer cells also increases HIF-1α expression by an undefined mechanism. In breast cancer, increased activity of the HER2 (also known as neu) receptor tyrosine kinase is associated with increased tumor grade, chemotherapy resistance, and decreased patient survival. HER2 has also been implicated as an inducer of VEGF expression. Here we demonstrate that HER2 signaling induced by overexpression in mouse 3T3 cells or heregulin stimulation of human MCF-7 breast cancer cells results in increased HIF-1α protein and VEGF mRNA expression that is dependent upon activity of PI3K, AKT (also known as protein kinase B), and the downstream kinase FRAP (FKBP-rapamycin-associated protein). In contrast to other inducers of HIF-1 expression, heregulin stimulation does not affect the half-life of HIF-1α but instead stimulates HIF-1α synthesis in a rapamycin-dependent manner. The 5′-untranslated region of HIF-1α mRNA directs heregulin-inducible expression of a heterologous protein. These data provide a molecular basis for VEGF induction and tumor angiogenesis by heregulin-HER2 signaling and establish a novel mechanism for the regulation of HIF-1α expression.
Loss of phosphatase and tensin homologue (PTEN) expression may be prognostic in colorectal cancer (CRC) and may have a correlation with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression via hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) alpha, and the PI3K/mTOR pathways. We therefore have explored the prognostic association of PTEN loss and the potential that PTEN loss may be predictive of outcome with bevacizumab. Patients enrolled in the AGITG MAX trial, a randomized Phase III trial of capecitabine (C) +/− bevacizumab (B) (+/− mitomycin C [M]) with available tissues were analyzed for PTEN expression (loss vs. no loss) as assessed using a Taqman® copy number assay (CNA). Of the original 471 patients enrolled, tissues from 302 (64.1%) patients were analyzed. PTEN loss was observed in 38.7% of patients. There was no relationship between PTEN loss and KRAS or BRAF mutation. PTEN status was not prognostic for progression-free survival (PFS) or overall survival (OS) in multivariate analyses adjusting for other baseline factors; loss versus no loss PFS hazard ratio (HR) 0.9 (0.7–1.16), OS HR 1.04 (0.79–1.38). PTEN was not prognostic when assessed by KRAS and BRAF status. By using the comparison of C versus CB+CBM, PTEN status was not significantly predictive of the effectiveness of B for PFS or OS. PTEN status was not prognostic for survival in advanced colorectal cancer, irrespective of KRAS or BRAF status. PTEN status did not significantly predict different benefit with bevacizumb therapy.
Bevacizumab; colorectal; KRAS; prognosis; PTEN; VEGF
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase acts downstream of PI3K/Akt to regulate cellular growth, metabolism and cytoskeleton. Since approximately 60% of sporadic colorectal cancers (CRCs) exhibit high levels of activated Akt, we determined whether downstream mTOR signaling pathway components are overexpressed and activated in CRCs.
HCT116, KM20, Caco-2 and SW480 human CRC cells were utilized to determine the effects of pharmacological (using rapamycin) or genetic (using RNAi) blockade of mTOR signaling on cell proliferation, apoptosis, cell cycle progression and subcutaneous growth in vivo
We show that the mTOR complex proteins, mTOR, Raptor and Rictor, are overexpressed in CRC. Treatment with rapamycin significantly decreased proliferation of some CRC cell lines (rapamycin-sensitive), while other cell lines were resistant to its effects (rapamycin-resistant). Transient siRNA-mediated knockdown of the mTORC2 protein, Rictor, significantly decreased proliferation of both rapamycin-sensitive and rapamycin-resistant CRC cells. Stable shRNA-mediated knockdown of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 decreased proliferation, increased apoptosis and attenuated cell cycle progression in rapamycin-sensitive CRCs. Moreover, stable knockdown of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 decreased proliferation and attenuated cell cycle progression, while only mTORC2 knockdown increased apoptosis in rapamycin-resistant CRCs. Finally, knockdown of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 inhibited growth of rapamycin-sensitive and -resistant CRCs in vivo when implanted as tumor xenografts.
Targeted inhibition of the mTORC2 protein, Rictor, leads to growth inhibition and induces apoptosis in both rapamycin-sensitive and rapamycin-resistant CRCs, suggesting that selective targeting of mTORC2 may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for treatment of CRC.
mTOR; Raptor; Rictor; Akt; rapamycin; colorectal cancer