The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway plays a central role in regulating protein synthesis, ribosomal protein translation, and cap-dependent translation. Deregulations in mTOR signaling are frequently associated with tumorigenesis, angiogenesis, tumor growth and metastasis. This review highlights the role of the mTOR in anticancer drug resistance. We discuss the network of signaling pathways in which the mTOR kinase is involved, including the structure and activation of the mTOR complex and the pathways upstream and downstream of mTOR as well as other molecular interactions of mTOR. Major upstream signaling components in control of mTOR activity are PI3K/PTEN/AKT and Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathways. We discuss the central role of mTOR in mediating the translation of mRNAs of proteins related to cell cycle progression, those involved in cell survival such as c-myc, hypoxia inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), cyclin A, cyclin dependent kinases (cdk1/2), cdk inhibitors (p21Cip1 and p27Kip1), retinoblastoma (Rb) protein, and RNA polymerases I and III. We then discuss the potential therapeutic opportunities for using mTOR inhibitors rapamycin, CCI-779, RAD001, and AP-23573 in cancer therapy as single agents or in combinations to reverse drug resistance.
mTOR; drug resistance; p70S6K1; PI3K; AKT; MAP kinase; VEGF; CCI-779; RAD001 (everolimus); AP-23573; neurofibromatosis 1
Both the PI3K→Akt→mTOR and MAPK signaling pathways are often deregulated in prostate tumors with poor prognosis. Here we describe a new genetically-engineered mouse model of prostate cancer in which PI3K-Akt-mTOR signaling is activated by inducible disruption of PTEN, and ERK1/2 MAP kinase signaling is activated by inducible expression of a BRAFV600E oncogene. These tissue-specific compound mutant mice develop lethal prostate tumors that are inherently resistant to castration. These tumors bypass cellular senescence and disseminate to lymph nodes, bone marrow and lungs where they form overt metastases in ~30% of the cases. Activation of PI3K→Akt→mTOR and MAPK signaling pathways in these prostate tumors cooperate to upregulate c-Myc. Accordingly, therapeutic treatments with Rapamycin and PD0325901 to target these pathways, respectively, attenuate c-Myc levels and reduce tumor and metastatic burden. Together, our findings suggest a generalized therapeutic approach to target c-Myc activation in prostate cancer by combinatorial targeting of the PI3K→Akt→mTOR and ERK1/2 MAPK signaling pathways.
Akt/mTOR signaling; MAP kinase signaling; genetically engineered mouse models; Braf; Myc
A large number of novel therapeutics is currently undergoing clinical evaluation for the treatment of prostate cancer, and small molecule signal transduction inhibitors are a promising class of agents. These inhibitors have recently become a standard therapy in renal cell carcinoma and offer significant promise in prostate cancer. Through an understanding of the key pathways involved in prostate cancer progression, a rational drug design can be aimed at the molecules critical to cellular signaling. This may enable administration of selective therapies based on the expression of molecular targets, more appropriately individualizing treatment for prostate cancer patients.
One pathway with a prominent role in prostate cancer is the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway. Current estimates suggest that PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling is upregulated in 30-50% of prostate cancers, often through loss of PTEN. Molecular changes in the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway have been demonstrated to differentiate benign from malignant prostatic epithelium and are associated with increasing tumor stage, grade, and risk of biochemical recurrence. Multiple inhibitors of this pathway have been developed and are being assessed in the laboratory and in clinical trials, with much attention focusing on mTOR inhibition. Current clinical trials in prostate cancer are assessing efficacy of mTOR inhibitors in combination with multiple targeted or traditional chemotherapies, including bevacizumab, gefitinib, and docetaxel. Completion of these trials will provide substantial information regarding the importance of this pathway in prostate cancer and the clinical implications of its targeted inhibition. In this article we review the data surrounding PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibition in prostate cancer and their clinical implications.
Prostate cancer; targeted therapy; PI3K; Akt; mTOR
Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) are two key components of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway. This signal transduction cascade regulates a wide range of physiological cell processes, that include differentiation, proliferation, apoptosis, autophagy, metabolism, motility, and exocytosis. However, constitutively active PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling characterizes many types of tumors where it negatively influences response to therapeutic treatments. Hence, targeting PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling with small molecule inhibitors may improve cancer patient outcome. The PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling cascade is overactive in acute leukemias, where it correlates with enhanced drug-resistance and poor prognosis. The catalytic sites of PI3K and mTOR share a high degree of sequence homology. This feature has allowed the synthesis of ATP-competitive compounds targeting the catalytic site of both kinases. In preclinical models, dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitors displayed a much stronger cytotoxicity against acute leukemia cells than either PI3K inhibitors or allosteric mTOR inhibitors, such as rapamycin. At variance with rapamycin, dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitors targeted both mTOR complex 1 and mTOR complex 2, and inhibited the rapamycin-resistant phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1, resulting in a marked inhibition of oncogenic protein translation. Therefore, they strongly reduced cell proliferation and induced an important apoptotic response. Here, we reviewed the evidence documenting that dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitors may represent a promising option for future targeted therapies of acute leukemia patients.
apoptosis; leukemia initiating cells; mRNA translation; PI3K/Akt/mTOR; targeted therapy
The AKT family of serine threonine kinases is of critical importance with regard to growth factor signaling, cell proliferation, survival and oncogenesis. Engagement of signaling receptors induces the lipid kinase, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), which enables the activation of AKT. Responsive to the PI3K/AKT pathway is the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a major effector that is specifically implicated in the regulation of cell growth as a result of nutrient availability and cellular bioenergetics. These kinases mediate the activity of a multitude of intracellular signaling molecules and intersect with multiple pathways that regulate cellular processes. Elucidating the role of AKT/mTOR in metabolism and in hallmark signaling pathways that are aberrantly affected in cancer has provided a solid foundation of discoveries. From this, new research directions are emerging with regard to the role of AKT/mTOR in diabetes and T cell-mediated immunity. As a result, a new perspective is developing in how AKT/mTOR functions within intracellular signaling pathways to maintain cellular homeostasis. An appreciation is emerging that altered equilibrium of AKT/mTOR pathways contributes to disease and malignancy. Such new insights may lead to novel intervention strategies that may be useful to reprogram or reset the balance of intracellular signaling.
Signal transduction; growth factor signaling; tumor progression; metabolism; molecular targeted inhibition.
Elucidating the response of breast cancer cells to chemotherapeutic and hormonal based drugs is clearly important as these are frequently used therapeutic approaches. A signaling pathway often involved in chemo- and hormonal-resistance is the Ras/PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR cascade. In the studies presented in this report, we have examined the effects of constitutive activation of Akt on the sensitivity of MCF-7 breast cancer cells to chemotherapeutic- and hormonal-based drugs as well as mTOR inhibitors. MCF-7 cells which expressed a constitutively-activated Akt-1 gene [ΔAkt-1(CA)] were more resistant to doxorubicin, etoposide and 4-OH-tamoxifen (4HT) than cells lacking ΔAkt-1(CA). Cells which expressed ΔAkt-1(CA) were hypersensitive to the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin. Furthermore, rapamycin lowered the IC50s for doxorubicin, etoposide and 4HT in the cells which expressed ΔAkt-1(CA), demonstrating a potential improved method for treating certain breast cancers which have deregulated PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR signaling. Understanding how breast cancers respond to chemo- and hormonal-based therapies and the mechanisms by which they can become drug resistant may enhance our ability to treat breast cancer. These results also document the potential importance of knowledge of the mutations present in certain cancers which may permit more effective therapies.
Akt; mTOR; Targeted Therapy; Drug Resistance
The protein kinase mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) is a critical regulator of cellular metabolism, growth, and proliferation. These processes contribute to tumor formation, and many cancers are characterized by aberrant activation of mTOR. Although activating mutations in mTOR itself have not been identified, deregulation of upstream components that regulate mTOR are prevalent in cancer. The prototypic mechanism of mTOR regulation in cells is through activation of the PI3K/Akt pathway, but mTOR receives input from multiple signaling pathways. This review will discuss Akt-dependent and independent mechanisms of mTOR regulation in response to mitogenic signals, as well as its regulation in response to energy and nutrient-sensing pathways. Preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated that tumors bearing genetic alterations that activate mTOR are sensitive to pharmacologic inhibition of mTOR. Elucidation of novel pathways that regulate mTOR may help identify predictive factors for sensitivity to mTOR inhibitors and could provide new therapeutic targets for inhibiting the mTOR pathway in cancer. This review will also highlight pharmacologic approaches that inhibit mTOR via activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an important inhibitor of the mTOR pathway and an emerging target in cancer.
mTOR; cancer; Akt; AMPK
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a protein kinase that controls cell growth, proliferation, and survival. mTOR signaling is often upregulated in cancer and there is great interest in developing drugs that target this enzyme. Rapamycin and its analogs bind to a domain separate from the catalytic site to block a subset of mTOR functions. These drugs are extremely selective for mTOR and are already in clinical use for treating cancers, but they could potentially activate an mTOR-dependent survival pathway that could lead to treatment failure. By contrast, small molecules that compete with ATP in the catalytic site would inhibit all of the kinase-dependent functions of mTOR without activating the survival pathway. Several non-selective mTOR kinase inhibitors have been described and here we review their chemical and cellular properties. Further development of selective mTOR kinase inhibitors holds the promise of yielding potent anticancer drugs with a novel mechanism of action.
mTOR; Rictor; Raptor; Rapamycin; Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase; Akt
Escape from cellular senescence induction is a potent mechanism for chemoresistance. Cellular senescence can be induced in breast cancer cell lines by the removal of estrogen signaling with tamoxifen or by the accumulation of DNA damage induced by the chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin. Long term culturing of the hormone-sensitive breast cancer cell line MCF-7 in doxorubicin (MCF-7/DoxR) reduced the ability of doxorubicin, but not tamoxifen, to induce senescence. Two pathways that are often upregulated in chemo- and hormonal-resistance are the PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR and Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathways. To determine if active Akt-1 and Raf-1 can influence drug-induced senescence, we stably introduced activated ΔAkt-1(CA) and ΔRaf-1(CA) into drug-sensitive and doxorubicin-resistant cells. Expression of a constitutively-active Raf-1 construct resulted in higher baseline senescence, indicating these cells possessed the ability to undergo oncogene-induced-senescence. Constitutive activation of the Akt pathway significantly decreased drug-induced senescence in response to doxorubicin but not tamoxifen in MCF-7 cells. However, constitutive Akt-1 activation in drug-resistant cells containing high levels of active ERK completely escaped cellular senescence induced by doxorubicin and tamoxifen. These results indicate that up regulation of the Ras/PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR pathway in the presence of elevated Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling together can contribute to drug-resistance by diminishing cell senescence in response to chemotherapy. Understanding how breast cancers containing certain oncogenic mutations escape cell senescence in response to chemotherapy and hormonal based therapies may provide insights into the design of more effective drug combinations for the treatment of breast cancer.
Akt; ERK; mTOR; Senescence; Drug Resistance; Tamoxifen
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) has emerged as an important cancer therapeutic target. Several mTOR inhibitors are currently being tested in cancer clinical trials. Both PI3K/Akt and MEK/ERK signaling regulate mTOR axis. However, inhibition of mTOR activates Akt survival signaling, which in turn attenuates mTOR inhibitors’ anticancer efficacy. We are interested in developing strategies for enhancing mTOR-targeted cancer therapy. In this study, we report that mTOR inhibition also induced activations of the MEK/ERK signaling pathway in some cancer cell lines after a prolonged treatment. The combination of rapamycin with the MEK inhibitor U0126 significantly enhanced growth inhibitory effects of cancer cells, suggesting that MEK/ERK activation may counteract mTOR inhibitors’ anticancer efficacy. Similarly, the combination of an mTOR inhibitor with the EGF receptor inhibitor erlotinib synergistically inhibited the growth of both human cancer cells in cell cultures and xenografts in nude mice. Moreover, the presence of erlotinib suppressed rapamycin-induced phosphorylation of Akt, ERK and eIF4E as well, implying that erlotinib can suppress mTOR inhibition-induced feedback activation of several survival signaling pathways including Akt, ERK and eIF4E. Thus, we suggest a therapeutic strategy for enhancing mTOR-targeted cancer therapy by preventing mTOR inhibition-induced feedback activation of several survival mechanisms.
mTOR inhibitors; erlotinib; survival signaling; Akt; ERK; eIF4E
Signal transduction and gene regulation determine a major reorganization of metabolic activities in order to support cell proliferation. Protein Kinase B (PKB), also known as Akt, participates in the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway, a master regulator of aerobic glycolysis and cellular biosynthesis, two activities shown by both normal and cancer proliferating cells. Not surprisingly considering its relevance for cellular metabolism, Akt/PKB is often found hyperactive in cancer cells. In the last decade, many efforts have been made to improve the understanding of the control of glucose metabolism and the identification of a therapeutic window between proliferating cancer cells and proliferating normal cells. In this context, we have modeled the link between the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway, glycolysis, lactic acid production, and nucleotide biosynthesis. We used a computational model to compare two metabolic states generated by two different levels of signaling through the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway: one of the two states represents the metabolism of a growing cancer cell characterized by aerobic glycolysis and cellular biosynthesis, while the other state represents the same metabolic network with a reduced glycolytic rate and a higher mitochondrial pyruvate metabolism. Biochemical reactions that link glycolysis and pentose phosphate pathway revealed their importance for controlling the dynamics of cancer glucose metabolism.
PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway; metabolism; kinetic models; glycolysis; cancer
Astrocytomas, the most common type of gliomas, and especially grade IV glioblastomas are “endowed” with strong proliferation and invasion potentials, high recurrence rate, and poor patients' prognosis. Aberrant signaling of AKT-mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) has been implicated in carcinogenesis. This paper is focused on the impact of deregulated AKT-mTOR signaling components in the clinical outcome and prognosis of human astrocytomas. Current therapeutic targeting of astrocytomas with AKT-mTOR inhibitors in preclinical and clinical stage is also discussed, including future perspectives regarding the management of these devastating tumors.
Deregulated mTOR signaling drives the growth of various human cancers, making mTOR a major target for development of cancer chemotherapeutics. The role of mTOR in carcinogenesis is thought to be largely a consequence of its activity in the cytoplasm, resulting in increased translation of pro-tumorigenic genes. However, emerging data locate mTOR in various subcellular compartments, including Golgi, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum and the nucleus, implying the presence of compartment-specific mTOR substrates and functions. Efforts to identify mTOR substrates in these compartments and the mechanisms by which mTOR recruits these substrates and affects downstream cellular processes will add to our understanding of the diversity of roles played by mTOR in carcinogenesis.
mTOR; TOS motifs; mTORC1; nuclear substrates; cell survival; cancer; SIRT1; epigentic regulation; transcription regulation; chromatin modification
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.
Targeted Therapy; Combination Therapy; Drug Resistance; Cancer Stem Cells; Aging; Senescence; Raf; Akt; PI3K; mTOR
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.
NSCLC is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the US. Patients with NSCLC are mostly treated with platinum-based chemotherapy, often in combination with radiation therapy. However, the development of chemoresistance is a major hurdle limiting treatment success. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of the genetic factors modulating chemoresistance to platinum chemotherapeutics and their association with clinical outcomes for NSCLC patients. We focus on candidate pathways responsible for drug influx and efflux, metabolism and detoxification, DNA damage repair, and other downstream cellular processes that modulate the effect of platinum-based therapy. We also discuss the application of pathway-based polygenic and genome-wide approaches in identifying genetic factors involved in NSCLC clinical outcomes. Overall, current studies have shown that the effects of each individual polymorphism on clinical outcomes are modest suggesting that a more comprehensive approach that incorporates polygenetic, phenotypic, epidemiologic and clinical variables will be necessary to predict prognosis for NSCLC patients receiving platinum-based chemotherapeutics.
carboplatin; chemotherapy; cisplatin; clinical outcomes; NSCLC
Despite advances in molecular pathogenesis, pancreatic cancer remains a major unsolved health problem. It is a rapidly invasive, metastatic tumor that is resistant to standard therapies. The phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathways are frequently dysregulated in pancreatic cancer. Gemcitabine (Gem) is the mainstay treatment for metastatic pancreatic cancer. P276 is a novel CDK inhibitor that induces G2/M arrest and inhibits tumor growth in vivo models. Here, we determined that P276 sensitizes pancreatic cancer cells to Gem induced apoptosis, a mechanism mediated through inhibition of Akt-mTOR signaling. In vitro, the combination of P276 and Gem resulted in a dose- and time-dependent inhibition of proliferation and colony formation of pancreatic cancer cells but not with normal pancreatic ductal cells. This combination also induced apoptosis, as seen by activated caspase 3 and increased Bax/Bcl2 ratio. Gene profiling studies demonstrated that this combination downregulated Akt-mTOR signaling pathway, which was confirmed by western blot analyses. There was also a downregulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and interleukin-8 expression suggesting effects on angiogenesis pathway. In vivo, intraperitoneal administration of the P276-Gem combination significantly suppressed the growth of pancreatic cancer tumor xenografts. There was a reduction in CD31 positive blood vessels, and reduced VEGF expression, again suggesting an effect on angiogenesis. Taken together, these data suggest that P276-Gem combination is a novel potent therapeutic agent that can target the Akt-mTOR signaling pathway to inhibit both tumor growth and angiogenesis.
apoptosis; tumor xenograft; microarray; cell cycle; Akt; mTOR
The receptor tyrosine kinase/PI3K/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (RTK/PI3K/AKT/mTOR) pathway is frequently altered in cancer, but the underlying mechanism leading to tumorigenesis by activated mTOR remains less clear. Here we show that mTOR is a positive regulator of Notch signaling in mouse and human cells, acting through induction of the STAT3/p63/Jagged signaling cascade. Furthermore, in response to differential cues from mTOR, we found that Notch served as a molecular switch to shift the balance between cell proliferation and differentiation. We determined that hyperactive mTOR signaling impaired cell differentiation of murine embryonic fibroblasts via potentiation of Notch signaling. Elevated mTOR signaling strongly correlated with enhanced Notch signaling in poorly differentiated but not in well-differentiated human breast cancers. Both human lung lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) and mouse kidney tumors with hyperactive mTOR due to tumor suppressor TSC1 or TSC2 deficiency exhibited enhanced STAT3/p63/Notch signaling. Furthermore, tumorigenic potential of cells with uncontrolled mTOR signaling was suppressed by Notch inhibition. Our data therefore suggest that perturbation of cell differentiation by augmented Notch signaling might be responsible for the underdifferentiated phenotype displayed by certain tumors with an aberrantly activated RTK/PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. Additionally, the STAT3/p63/Notch axis may be a useful target for the treatment of cancers exhibiting hyperactive mTOR signaling.
It has become clear that the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is central for promoting both tumor and tumor stroma and is therefore a major target for anticancer drug development. First- and second-generation rapalogs (prototypical mTOR inhibitors) have shown promise but, due to the complex nature of mTOR signaling, can result in counterproductive feedback signaling to potentiate upstream Akt signaling. We present a novel PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibitor, Palomid 529 (P529), which inhibits the TORC1 and TORC2 complexes and shows both inhibition of Akt signaling and mTOR signaling similarly in tumor and vasculature. We show that P529 inhibits tumor growth, angiogenesis, and vascular permeability. It retains the beneficial aspects of tumor vascular normalization that rapamycin boasts. However, P529 has the additional benefit of blocking pAktS473 signaling consistent with blocking TORC2 in all cells and thus bypassing feedback loops that lead to increased Akt signaling in some tumor cells. [Cancer Res 2008;68(22):9551–7]
Inflammation often exists in the tumor microenvironment and is induced by inflammatory mediators (cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors) produced by the tumor, stroma, and infiltrating cells. These factors modulate tissue remodeling and angiogenesis and actively promote tumor cell survival and chemoresistance through autocrine and paracrine mechanisms. Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) are highly inflammatory and aggressive in nature, and they express a number of cytokines and growth factors involved in inflammation. These cytokines and growth factors activate important signal transduction pathways, including NF-κB, JAK/STAT, and PI3K/Akt/mTOR, which regulate the expression of genes controlling growth, survival, and chemosensitivity. This review provides an update on recent advances in the understanding of the mechanisms driving cancer-related inflammation in HNSCC and on molecular targeted therapies under pre-clinical and clinical investigation.
Inflammation; cytokines; signal pathways; targeted therapies; head and neck cancer
Genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models of ovarian cancer that closely recapitulate their human tumor counterparts may be invaluable tools for preclinical testing of novel therapeutics. We studied murine ovarian endometrioid adenocarcinomas (OEAs) arising from conditional dysregulation of canonical WNT and PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway signaling to investigate their response to conventional chemotherapeutic drugs and mTOR or AKT inhibitors.
OEAs were induced by injection of adenovirus expressing Cre recombinase (AdCre) into the ovarian bursae of Apcflox/flox;Ptenflox/flox mice. Tumor-bearing mice or murine OEA-derived cell lines were treated with cisplatin and paclitaxel, mTOR inhibitor rapamycin, or AKT inhibitors API-2 or perifosine. Treatment effects were monitored in vivo by tumor volume and bioluminescence imaging, in vitro by WST-1 proliferation assays, and in OEA tissues and cells by immunoblotting and immunostaining for levels and phosphorylation status of PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway components.
Murine OEAs developed within 3 weeks of AdCre injection and were not preceded by endometriosis. OEAs responded to cisplatin + paclitaxel, rapamycin, and AKT inhibitors in vivo. In vitro studies showed that response to mTOR and AKT inhibitors, but not conventional cytotoxic drugs, was dependent on the status of PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling. AKT inhibition in APC−/PTEN− tumor cells resulted in compensatory up-regulation of ERK signaling.
The studies demonstrate the utility of this GEM model of ovarian cancer for pre-clinical testing of novel PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling inhibitors and provide evidence for compensatory signaling, suggesting that multiple rather than single agent targeted therapy will be more efficacious for treating ovarian cancers with activated PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling.
ovarian carcinoma; endometriosis; PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling; mouse model; bioluminescence imaging
Deregulation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway has been found in a variety of human cancers. However, the exact molecular mechanism how the mTOR signaling pathway is regulated remains largely elusive. Recently, DEPTOR was identified as an endogenous mTOR inhibitor that could suppress mTOR activity in vivo. More importantly, accumulated evidence has implicated that DEPTOR plays a pivotal role in the development and progression of human malignances, which could in part be mediated through its inhibitory role toward mTOR. Furthermore, three independent laboratories including our own have demonstrated that the stability of DEPTOR is controlled by the SCFβ-TrCP E3 ubiquitin ligase and deregulated DEPTOR destruction might contribute to hyperactivation of mTOR in pathologic conditions including cancer. This review discusses the recent literature regarding the function of DEPTOR involved in cell growth, apoptosis, autophagy, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and drug resistance, all of which are associated with the pathogenesis of human cancers. Moreover, we also summarize that targeting DEPTOR may be a novel strategy for achieving better anticancer treatments.
The mTOR signaling pathway is dysregulated in ~50% of all human malignancies and is a major cancer drug target. Although rapamycin analogs (rapalogs) have shown clinical efficacy in a subset of cancers, they do not fully exploit the antitumor potential of mTOR targeting. Because the mTOR kinase domain is important for rapamycin-sensitive and -insensitive functions, mTOR catalytic inhibitors have been developed recently as the second generation of anti-mTOR agents. Importantly, they have shown marked improvement of antitumor activity in vivo and in vitro. This review will detail the potential therapeutic value and issues of these novel antineoplastic agents, with emphasis placed on those that have already entered clinical trials.
mTOR; PI3K; Kinase inhibitor; Signal transduction; Cancer
The activation of Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway represents a frequent event in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) progression, thus raising the possibility of using specific mTOR inhibitors for the treatment of SCC patients. In this regard, blockade of mTOR with rapamycin prevents the growth of human head and neck SCC cells when xenotransplanted into immunodeficient mice. However, therapeutic responses in xenograft tumors are not always predictive of clinical anti-cancer activity.
As genetically defined and chemically-induced animal cancer models often reflect better the complexity of the clinical setting, we used here a two-step chemical carcinogenesis model to explore the effectiveness of rapamycin for the treatment of skin SCC.
Rapamycin exerted a remarkable anti-cancer activity in this chemically-induced cancer model, decreasing the tumor burden of mice harboring early and advanced tumor lesions, and even recurrent skin SCCs. Immunohistochemical studies on tumor biopsies and clustering analysis revealed that rapamycin causes the rapid decrease in the phosphorylation status of mTOR targets, followed by the apoptotic death of cancer cells and the reduction in the growth and metabolic activity of the surviving ones, concomitant with a decrease in the population of cancer cells expressing mutant p53. This approach enabled investigating the relationship among molecular changes caused by mTOR inhibition, thus helping identify relevant biomarkers for monitoring the effectiveness of mTOR inhibition in the clinical setting.
Together, these findings provide a strong rationale for the early evaluation of mTOR inhibitors as a molecular targeted approach to treat SCC.
rapamycin; carcinogenesis; squamous cell carcinoma; mTOR; molecular targets
Plasmacytoid urothelial carcinoma is a rare but aggressive variant of bladder cancer with no clear therapeutic guidelines. Dysregulation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway has been linked to oncogenesis in conventional bladder cancer. Several antineoplastic agents targeting mTOR pathway are currently available. This study assesses mTOR pathway status as well as c-myc and p27 expression. We retrieved 19 archival cases of plasmacytoid urothelial carcinoma from two institutions. Whole tissue sections were evaluated for immunoexpression of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), phosphorylated mTOR, phosphorylated protein kinase B (AKT), phosphorylated S6, c-myc, and p27. We evaluated intensity (0 to 3+) and extent (0%–100%) of expression for all markers. An H score was calculated as the sum of products of intensity and extent for each marker and used during analysis. In addition, PTEN loss was defined as absence of expression in >10% of tumor cells. We encountered PTEN loss in 28%. Higher H score for nuclear phosphorylatedAKT and a lowerHscore for phosphorylated S6 was encountered in muscle invasive tumors compared to non-muscle invasive tumors (P = .007 and P = .009, respectively). Although a trend for negative prognostic impact on overall survival for higher phosphorylated mTOR expression was noted (P = .051), markers expression levels failed to predict survival in our cohort. We found dysregulation of mTOR pathway members in urinary bladder plasmacytoid urothelial carcinoma, suggesting that the use of mTOR pathway inhibitors might be beneficial for patients with this aggressive tumor.
Mammalian target of rapamycin; PTEN; Plasmacytoid urothelial carcinoma; Bladder