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1.  PI3K-C2γ is a Rab5 effector selectively controlling endosomal Akt2 activation downstream of insulin signalling 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7400.
In the liver, insulin-mediated activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway is at the core of metabolic control. Multiple PI3K and Akt isoenzymes are found in hepatocytes and whether isoform-selective interplays exist is currently unclear. Here we report that insulin signalling triggers the association of the liver-specific class II PI3K isoform γ (PI3K-C2γ) with Rab5-GTP, and its recruitment to Rab5-positive early endosomes. In these vesicles, PI3K-C2γ produces a phosphatidylinositol-3,4-bisphosphate pool specifically required for delayed and sustained endosomal Akt2 stimulation. Accordingly, loss of PI3K-C2γ does not affect insulin-dependent Akt1 activation as well as S6K and FoxO1-3 phosphorylation, but selectively reduces Akt2 activation, which specifically inhibits glycogen synthase activity. As a consequence, PI3K-C2γ-deficient mice display severely reduced liver accumulation of glycogen and develop hyperlipidemia, adiposity as well as insulin resistance with age or after consumption of a high-fat diet. Our data indicate PI3K-C2γ supports an isoenzyme-specific forking of insulin-mediated signal transduction to an endosomal pool of Akt2, required for glucose homeostasis.
The kinase PI3K is crucial for insulin signalling in the liver but the roles of individual PI3K isoforms are largely unclear. Using mice that lack class II PI3K isoform γ (PI3K-C2γ), the authors here show that PI3K-C2γ selectively activates endosomal Akt2 by regulating the localized production of PIP2.
PMCID: PMC4479417  PMID: 26100075
2.  Contractile Function During Angiotensin-II Activation 
Renin-angiotensin system activation is a feature of many cardiovascular conditions. Activity of myocardial reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase 2 (NADPH oxidase 2 or Nox2) is enhanced by angiotensin II (Ang II) and contributes to increased hypertrophy, fibrosis, and adverse remodeling. Recent studies found that Nox2-mediated reactive oxygen species production modulates physiological cardiomyocyte function.
This study sought to investigate the effects of cardiomyocyte Nox2 on contractile function during increased Ang II activation.
We generated a cardiomyocyte-targeted Nox2-transgenic mouse model and studied the effects of in vivo and ex vivo Ang II stimulation, as well as chronic aortic banding.
Chronic subpressor Ang II infusion induced greater cardiac hypertrophy in transgenic than wild-type mice but unexpectedly enhanced contractile function. Acute Ang II treatment also enhanced contractile function in transgenic hearts in vivo and transgenic cardiomyocytes ex vivo. Ang II–stimulated Nox2 activity increased sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ uptake in transgenic mice, increased the Ca2+ transient and contractile amplitude, and accelerated cardiomyocyte contraction and relaxation. Elevated Nox2 activity increased phospholamban phosphorylation in both hearts and cardiomyocytes, related to inhibition of protein phosphatase 1 activity. In a model of aortic banding–induced chronic pressure overload, heart function was similarly depressed in transgenic and wild-type mice.
We identified a novel mechanism in which Nox2 modulates cardiomyocyte SR Ca2+ uptake and contractile function through redox-regulated changes in phospholamban phosphorylation. This mechanism can drive increased contractility in the short term in disease states characterized by enhanced renin-angiotensin system activation.
PMCID: PMC4509515  PMID: 26184620
angiotensin II; contraction; myocyte; NADPH oxidase; Ang II, angiotensin II; [Ca2+]i, intracellular calcium ions; HF, heart failure; LV, left ventricular; NADPH, reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate; NCX, sodium-calcium exchange; Nox2, NADPH oxidase 2; PKA, protein kinase A; PP1, protein phosphatase 1; RAS, renin-angiotensin system; ROS, reactive oxygen species; RyR2, ryanodine receptor; SERCA, sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase; SR, sarcoplasmic reticulum
3.  PI3Kγ integrates cAMP and Akt signalling of the μ-opioid receptor 
British Journal of Pharmacology  2014;171(13):3328-3337.
The μ-opioid receptor has been characterized as the main mediator of opioid signalling in neuronal cells. Opioid-induced pain suppression was originally proposed to be mediated by μ-opioid receptor-induced inhibitory effects on cAMP, which is known to mediate inflammatory hypernociception. Recent investigations revealed PI3Kγ and Akt (PKB) as additional elements of μ-opioid receptor signalling. Hence, we investigated the interaction between pronociceptive cAMP and antinociceptive PI3K/Akt signalling pathways.
The human neuroblastoma cell line SK-N-LO and primary dorsal root ganglia (DRG) cells from mice were used to elucidate mediators of μ-opioid receptor signalling. In both cellular systems cAMP was manipulated by stimulation of adenylate cyclase and consequent effects on PI3K/Akt signalling were analysed.
Morphine stimulated Akt phosphorylation on Ser473 and Thr308 in a dose- and time-dependent manner indicating a functional μ-opioid receptor/Akt signalling pathway in μ-SK-N-LO cells. This effect of morphine was suppressed by the μ-opioid receptor inhibitor, naloxone, Pertussis toxin, an inhibitor of Gi heterotrimeric G-proteins, and the pan PI3K inhibitor wortmannin. cAMP-elevating agents also suppressed μ-opioid receptor-dependent stimulation of PI3Kγ lipid kinase and Akt activities in SK-N-LO cells and DRG.
The data unveil a hitherto unknown interaction of pronociceptive cAMP and antinociceptive PI3K/Akt signalling pathways in neuronal cells. PI3Kγ was identified as a mediator of the inhibitory action of cAMP on Akt in SK-N-LO cells and DRG. The data indicate that PI3Kγ has a critical role in cAMP-mediated inflammatory hypernociception and analgesic signalling via μ-opioid receptors and PI3K/Akt in neuronal cells.
PMCID: PMC4080984  PMID: 24654606
μ-opioid receptor; PI3Kγ; cAMP; dorsal root ganglia; pain; nociception
4.  Lack of kinase-independent activity of PI3Kγ in locus coeruleus induces ADHD symptoms through increased CREB signaling 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2015;7(7):904-917.
Although PI3Kγ has been extensively investigated in inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases, the exploration of its functions in the brain is just at dawning. It is known that PI3Kγ is present in neurons and that the lack of PI3Kγ in mice leads to impaired synaptic plasticity, suggestive of a role in behavioral flexibility. Several neuropsychiatric disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), involve an impairment of behavioral flexibility. Here, we found a previously unreported expression of PI3Kγ throughout the noradrenergic neurons of the locus coeruleus (LC) in the brainstem, serving as a mechanism that regulates its activity of control on attention, locomotion and sociality. In particular, we show an unprecedented phenotype of PI3Kγ KO mice resembling ADHD symptoms. PI3Kγ KO mice exhibit deficits in the attentive and mnemonic domains, typical hyperactivity, as well as social dysfunctions. Moreover, we demonstrate that the ADHD phenotype depends on a dysregulation of CREB signaling exerted by a kinase-independent PI3Kγ-PDE4D interaction in the noradrenergic neurons of the locus coeruleus, thus uncovering new tools for mechanistic and therapeutic research in ADHD.
PMCID: PMC4520656  PMID: 25882071
catecholamine; CREB; mouse model; phosphodiesterases (PDEs); stereotactic surgery
5.  Genetic Deletion and Pharmacological Inhibition of PI3Kγ Reduces Neutrophilic Airway Inflammation and Lung Damage in Mice with Cystic Fibrosis-Like Lung Disease 
Mediators of Inflammation  2015;2015:545417.
Purpose. Neutrophil-dominated airway inflammation is a key feature of progressive lung damage in cystic fibrosis (CF). Thus, reducing airway inflammation is a major goal to prevent lung damage in CF. However, current anti-inflammatory drugs have shown several limits. PI3Kγ plays a pivotal role in leukocyte recruitment and activation; in the present study we determined the effects of genetic deletion and pharmacologic inhibition of PI3Kγ on airway inflammation and structural lung damage in a mouse model of CF lung disease. Methods. βENaC overexpressing mice (βENaC-Tg) were backcrossed with PI3Kγ-deficient (PI3KγKO) mice. Tissue damage was assessed by histology and morphometry and inflammatory cell number was evaluated in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF). Furthermore, we assessed the effect of a specific PI3Kγ inhibitor (AS-605240) on inflammatory cell number in BALF. Results. Genetic deletion of PI3Kγ decreased neutrophil numbers in BALF of PI3KγKO/βENaC-Tg mice, and this was associated with reduced emphysematous changes. Treatment with the PI3Kγ inhibitor AS-605240 decreased the number of neutrophils in BALF of βENaC-Tg mice, reproducing the effect observed with genetic deletion of the enzyme. Conclusions. These results demonstrate the biological efficacy of both genetic deletion and pharmacological inhibition of PI3Kγ in reducing chronic neutrophilic inflammation in CF-like lung disease in vivo.
PMCID: PMC4491401  PMID: 26185363
6.  Targeting PI3Kγ activity decreases vascular trauma-induced intimal hyperplasia through modulation of the Th1 response 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2014;211(9):1779-1792.
PI3Kγ plays a major role in the initiation and progression of intimal hyperplasia by specifically modulating Th1 cytokines leading to CXCL10 and RANTES production by smooth muscle cells.
Interventional strategies to treat atherosclerosis, such as transluminal angioplasty and stent implantation, often cause vascular injury. This leads to intimal hyperplasia (IH) formation that induces inflammatory and fibroproliferative processes and ultimately restenosis. We show that phosphoinositide 3-kinase γ (PI3Kγ) is a key player in IH formation and is a valid therapeutic target in its prevention/treatment. PI3Kγ-deficient mice and mice expressing catalytically inactive PI3Kγ (PI3Kγ KD) showed reduced arterial occlusion and accumulation of monocytes and T cells around sites of vascular lesion. The transfer of PI3Kγ KD CD4+ T cells into Rag2-deficient mice greatly reduced vascular occlusion compared with WT cells, clearly demonstrating the involvement of PI3Kγ in CD4+ T cells during IH formation. In addition we found that IH is associated with increased levels of Th1 and Th17 cytokines. A specific decrease in the Th1 response was observed in the absence of PI3Kγ activity, leading to decreased CXCL10 and RANTES production by smooth muscle cells. Finally, we show that treatment with the PI3Kγ inhibitor AS-605240 is sufficient to decrease IH in both mouse and rat models, reinforcing the therapeutic potential of PI3Kγ inhibition. Altogether, these findings demonstrate a new role for PI3Kγ activity in Th1-controlled IH development.
PMCID: PMC4144742  PMID: 25073791
7.  Class I Phosphoinositide-3-Kinases and Src Kinases Play a Nonredundant Role in Regulation of Adhesion-Independent and -Dependent Neutrophil Reactive Oxygen Species Generation 
Chemoattractant-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation by adherent neutrophils occurs in two phases: the first is very rapid and transient, and the second one is delayed and lasts up to 30–40 min. We examined the role of phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) and Src-family kinases (SFKs) in these responses using human neutrophils treated with inhibitory compounds or murine neutrophils deficient of PI3Kγ or Hck, Fgr, and Lyn. Our studies show that PI3Kγ is indispensable for the early, fMLF-induced ROS generation and AKT and ERK phosphorylation, but is dispensable for the late response to fMLF. Additionally, the response to TNF, an agonist triggering only the delayed phase of ROS generation, was also unaffected in PI3Kγ-deficient neutrophils. In contrast, inhibition of SFKs by a selective inhibitor in human, or SFK deficiency in murine, neutrophils resulted in the inhibition of both the early and late phase of ROS generation, without affecting the early phase of AKT phosphorylation, but inhibiting the late one. Selective inhibitors of PI3Kα and PI3Kδ markedly reduced both the early and late response to fMLF and TNF in human neutrophils. These findings suggest that class IA PI3Ks may be activated by PI3Kγ via Ras in the early phase of the response and by SFKs in the late phase. The evidence that inhibition of SFKs in human, or SFK deficiency in murine, neutrophils results in suppression of Vav phosphorylation at all time points of the response to fMLF or TNF suggests that SFKs are indispensable for Vav phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC4280093  PMID: 23447687
8.  Role of phosphoinositide 3-kinase in the pathogenesis of acute pancreatitis 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(41):15190-15199.
A large body of experimental and clinical data supports the notion that inflammation in acute pancreatitis has a crucial role in the pathogenesis of local and systemic damage and is a major determinant of clinical severity. Thus, research has recently focused on molecules that can regulate the inflammatory processes, such as phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks), a family of lipid and protein kinases involved in intracellular signal transduction. Studies using genetic ablation or pharmacologic inhibitors of different PI3K isoforms, in particular the class I PI3Kδ and PI3Kγ, have contributed to a greater understanding of the roles of these kinases in the modulation of inflammatory and immune responses. Recent data suggest that PI3Ks are also involved in the pathogenesis of acute pancreatitis. Activation of the PI3K signaling pathway, and in particular of the class IB PI3Kγ isoform, has a significant role in those events which are necessary for the initiation of acute pancreatic injury, namely calcium signaling alteration, trypsinogen activation, and nuclear factor-κB transcription. Moreover, PI3Kγ is instrumental in modulating acinar cell apoptosis, and regulating local neutrophil infiltration and systemic inflammatory responses during the course of experimental acute pancreatitis. The availability of PI3K inhibitors selective for specific isoforms may provide new valuable therapeutic strategies to improve the clinical course of this disease. This article presents a brief summary of PI3K structure and function, and highlights recent advances that implicate PI3Ks in the pathogenesis of acute pancreatitis.
PMCID: PMC4223253  PMID: 25386068
Phosphoinositide 3-kinase; Cell signaling; Inflammation; Pathogenesis; Acute pancreatitis
9.  PI3K Class II α Controls Spatially Restricted Endosomal PtdIns3P and Rab11 Activation to Promote Primary Cilium Function 
Developmental Cell  2014;28(6):647-658.
Multiple phosphatidylinositol (PtdIns) 3-kinases (PI3Ks) can produce PtdIns3P to control endocytic trafficking, but whether enzyme specialization occurs in defined subcellular locations is unclear. Here, we report that PI3K-C2α is enriched in the pericentriolar recycling endocytic compartment (PRE) at the base of the primary cilium, where it regulates production of a specific pool of PtdIns3P. Loss of PI3K-C2α-derived PtdIns3P leads to mislocalization of PRE markers such as TfR and Rab11, reduces Rab11 activation, and blocks accumulation of Rab8 at the primary cilium. These changes in turn cause defects in primary cilium elongation, Smo ciliary translocation, and Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) signaling and ultimately impair embryonic development. Selective reconstitution of PtdIns3P levels in cells lacking PI3K-C2α rescues Rab11 activation, primary cilium length, and Shh pathway induction. Thus, PI3K-C2α regulates the formation of a PtdIns3P pool at the PRE required for Rab11 and Shh pathway activation.
Graphical Abstract
•PI3K-C2α specifically produces PtdIns3P at the PRE•PI3K-C2α-dependent PtdIns3P modulates localization and activation of Rab11•PI3K-C2α controls the Rab11/Rab8 axis at the primary cilium base•PI3K-C2α is required for Smo ciliary targeting and Shh signaling
Multiple PI3Ks produce PtdIns3P, but whether enzyme specialization occurs in defined subcellular locations is unclear. Franco et al. report that PI3K-C2α is enriched in the pericentriolar recycling endocytic compartment (PRE) around the primary cilium base and regulates PtdIns3P-dependent membrane traffic required for Rab11 localization/activation, Smo ciliary targeting, and Shh signaling.
PMCID: PMC4042153  PMID: 24697898
10.  NADPH Oxidases in Heart Failure: Poachers or Gamekeepers? 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2013;18(9):1024-1041.
Significance: Oxidative stress is involved in the pathogenesis of heart failure but clinical antioxidant trials have been unsuccessful. This may be because effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) depend upon their source, location, and concentration. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase (Nox) proteins generate ROS in a highly regulated fashion and modulate several components of the heart failure phenotype. Recent Advances: Two Nox isoforms, Nox2 and Nox4, are expressed in the heart. Studies using gene-modified mice deficient in Nox2 activity indicate that Nox2 activation contributes to angiotensin II–induced cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, atrial fibrillation, and the development of interstitial fibrosis but may also positively modulate physiological excitation-contraction coupling. Nox2 contributes to myocyte death under stress situations and plays important roles in postmyocardial infarction remodeling, in part by modulating matrix metalloprotease activity. In contrast to Nox2, Nox4 is constitutively active at a low level and induces protective effects in the heart under chronic stress, for example, by maintaining myocardial capillary density. However, high levels of Nox4 could have detrimental effects. Critical Issues: The effects of Nox proteins during the development of heart failure likely depend upon the isoform, activation level, and cellular distribution, and may include beneficial as well as detrimental effects. More needs to be learnt about the precise regulation of abundance and biochemical activity of these proteins in the heart as well as the downstream signaling pathways that they regulate. Future Directions: The development of specific approaches to target individual Nox isoforms and/or specific cell types may be important for the achievement of therapeutic efficacy in heart failure. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 18, 1024–1041.
PMCID: PMC3567780  PMID: 22747566
11.  Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase γ Protects Against Catecholamine-Induced Ventricular Arrhythmia Through Protein Kinase A–Mediated Regulation of Distinct Phosphodiesterases 
Circulation  2012;126(17):2073-2083.
Phosphoinositide 3-kinase γ (PI3Kγ) signaling engaged by β-adrenergic receptors is pivotal in the regulation of myocardial contractility and remodeling. However, the role of PI3Kγ in catecholamine-induced arrhythmia is currently unknown.
Methods and Results
Mice lacking PI3Kγ (PI3Kγ−/−) showed runs of premature ventricular contractions on adrenergic stimulation that could be rescued by a selective β2-adrenergic receptor blocker and developed sustained ventricular tachycardia after transverse aortic constriction. Consistently, fluorescence resonance energy transfer probes revealed abnormal cAMP accumulation after β2-adrenergic receptor activation in PI3Kγ−/− cardiomyocytes that depended on the loss of the scaffold but not of the catalytic activity of PI3Kγ. Downstream from β-adrenergic receptors, PI3Kγ was found to participate in multiprotein complexes linking protein kinase A to the activation of phosphodiesterase (PDE) 3A, PDE4A, and PDE4B but not of PDE4D. These PI3Kγ-regulated PDEs lowered cAMP and limited protein kinase A–mediated phosphorylation of L-type calcium channel (Cav1.2) and phospholamban. In PI3Kγ−/− cardiomyocytes, Cav1.2 and phospholamban were hyperphosphorylated, leading to increased Ca2+ spark occurrence and amplitude on adrenergic stimulation. Furthermore, PI3Kγ−/− cardiomyocytes showed spontaneous Ca2+ release events and developed arrhythmic calcium transients.
PI3Kγ coordinates the coincident signaling of the major cardiac PDE3 and PDE4 isoforms, thus orchestrating a feedback loop that prevents calcium-dependent ventricular arrhythmia.
PMCID: PMC3913165  PMID: 23008439
arrhythmias, cardiac; class II phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases; 3′,5′-cyclic-AMP phosphodiesterases; cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinases; receptors, adrenergic beta-2
12.  PI3K p110γ Deletion Attenuates Murine Atherosclerosis by Reducing Macrophage Proliferation but Not Polarization or Apoptosis in Lesions 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72674.
Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease regulated by infiltrating monocytes and T cells, among other cell types. Macrophage recruitment to atherosclerotic lesions is controlled by monocyte infiltration into plaques. Once in the lesion, macrophage proliferation in situ, apoptosis, and differentiation to an inflammatory (M1) or anti-inflammatory phenotype (M2) are involved in progression to advanced atherosclerotic lesions. We studied the role of phosphoinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) p110γ in the regulation of in situ apoptosis, macrophage proliferation and polarization towards M1 or M2 phenotypes in atherosclerotic lesions. We analyzed atherosclerosis development in LDLR−/−p110γ+/− and LDLR−/−p110γ−/− mice, and performed expression and functional assays in tissues and primary cells from these and from p110γ+/− and p110γ−/− mice. Lack of p110γ in LDLR−/− mice reduces the atherosclerosis burden. Atherosclerotic lesions in fat-fed LDLR−/−p110γ−/− mice were smaller than in LDLR−/−p110γ+/− controls, which coincided with decreased macrophage proliferation in LDLR−/−p110γ−/− mouse lesions. This proliferation defect was also observed in p110γ−/− bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMM) stimulated with macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), and was associated with higher intracellular cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels. In contrast, T cell proliferation was unaffected in LDLR−/−p110γ−/− mice. Moreover, p110γ deficiency did not affect macrophage polarization towards the M1 or M2 phenotypes or apoptosis in atherosclerotic plaques, or polarization in cultured BMM. Our results suggest that higher cAMP levels and the ensuing inhibition of macrophage proliferation contribute to atheroprotection in LDLR−/− mice lacking p110γ. Nonetheless, p110γ deletion does not appear to be involved in apoptosis, in macrophage polarization or in T cell proliferation.
PMCID: PMC3750002  PMID: 23991137
13.  PKCβ Phosphorylates PI3Kγ to Activate It and Release It from GPCR Control 
PLoS Biology  2013;11(6):e1001587.
The GPCR-activated PI3Kγ is also a key enzyme downstream of the IgE high affinity receptor FcεRI. PKCβ-dependent phosphorylation of PI3Kγ on Ser582 is the ‘missing link’ that functions as a molecular switch to divert PI3Kγ from GPCR inputs.
All class I phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) associate tightly with regulatory subunits through interactions that have been thought to be constitutive. PI3Kγ is key to the regulation of immune cell responses activated by G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Remarkably we find that PKCβ phosphorylates Ser582 in the helical domain of the PI3Kγ catalytic subunit p110γ in response to clustering of the high-affinity IgE receptor (FcεRI) and/or store-operated Ca2+- influx in mast cells. Phosphorylation of p110γ correlates with the release of the p84 PI3Kγ adapter subunit from the p84-p110γ complex. Ser582 phospho-mimicking mutants show increased p110γ activity and a reduced binding to the p84 adapter subunit. As functional p84-p110γ is key to GPCR-mediated p110γ signaling, this suggests that PKCβ-mediated p110γ phosphorylation disconnects PI3Kγ from its canonical inputs from trimeric G proteins, and enables p110γ to operate downstream of Ca2+ and PKCβ. Hydrogen deuterium exchange mass spectrometry shows that the p84 adaptor subunit interacts with the p110γ helical domain, and reveals an unexpected mechanism of PI3Kγ regulation. Our data show that the interaction of p110γ with its adapter subunit is vulnerable to phosphorylation, and outline a novel level of PI3K control.
Author Summary
Phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3Ks) are involved in most essential cellular processes. Class I PI3Ks are heterodimers: class IA PI3Ks are made up of one of a group of regulatory p85-like subunits and one p110α, p110β, or p110δ catalytic p110 subunit, and are activated via binding of their p85 subunit to phosphorylated tyrosine receptors or their substrates. The only, class IB PI3K member, PI3Kγ, operates downstream of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). Recent work suggested that PI3Kγ also operates downstream of IgE-antigen complexes in mast cell activation, but no mechanism was provided. We show that clustering of the high-affinity IgE receptor FcεRI triggers a massive calcium ion influx, which leads to PKCβ activation. In turn, PKCβ phosphorylates Ser582 of the PI3Kγ catalytic p110γ subunit's helical domain. Downstream of GPCRs, p110γ requires a p84 adapter to be functional. Phospho-mimicking mutations at Ser582 disrupt the p84-p110γ interaction, and cellular Ser582 phosphorylation correlates with the loss of p84 from p110γ. Thus our data suggest that PKCβ phosphorylates and activates p110γ downstream of calcium ion influx, while simultaneously disconnecting the phosphorylated p110γ from GPCR signaling. Exploration of the p84-p110γ interaction surface by hydrogen- deuterium exchange mass spectrometry confirmed that the p110γ helical domain forms the main p84-p110γ contact surface. Taken together, the results suggest an unprecedented mechanism of PI3Kγ regulation.
PMCID: PMC3692425  PMID: 23824069
14.  PI3-Kinase γ Promotes Rap1a-Mediated Activation of Myeloid Cell Integrin α4β1, Leading to Tumor Inflammation and Growth 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60226.
Tumor inflammation, the recruitment of myeloid lineage cells into the tumor microenvironment, promotes angiogenesis, immunosuppression and metastasis. CD11b+Gr1lo monocytic lineage cells and CD11b+Gr1hi granulocytic lineage cells are recruited from the circulation by tumor-derived chemoattractants, which stimulate PI3-kinase γ (PI3Kγ)-mediated integrin α4 activation and extravasation. We show here that PI3Kγ activates PLCγ, leading to RasGrp/CalDAG-GEF-I&II mediated, Rap1a-dependent activation of integrin α4β1, extravasation of monocytes and granulocytes, and inflammation-associated tumor progression. Genetic depletion of PLCγ, CalDAG-GEFI or II, Rap1a, or the Rap1 effector RIAM was sufficient to prevent integrin α4 activation by chemoattractants or activated PI3Kγ (p110γCAAX), while activated Rap (RapV12) promoted constitutive integrin activation and cell adhesion that could only be blocked by inhibition of RIAM or integrin α4β1. Similar to blockade of PI3Kγ or integrin α4β1, blockade of Rap1a suppressed both the recruitment of monocytes and granulocytes to tumors and tumor progression. These results demonstrate critical roles for a PI3Kγ-Rap1a-dependent pathway in integrin activation during tumor inflammation and suggest novel avenues for cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3614555  PMID: 23565202
15.  Rule out of acute aortic dissection with plasma matrix metalloproteinase 8 in the emergency department 
Critical Care  2013;17(1):R33.
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are involved in aortic pathophysiology. Preliminary studies have detected increased plasma levels of MMP8 and MMP9 in patients with acute aortic dissection (AAD). However, the performance of plasma MMP8 and MMP9 for the diagnosis of AAD in the emergency department is at present unknown.
The levels of MMP8 and MMP9 were measured by ELISA on plasma samples obtained from 126 consecutive patients evaluated in the emergency department for suspected AAD. All patients were subjected to urgent computed tomography (CT) scan for final diagnosis.
In the study cohort (N = 126), AAD was diagnosed in 52 patients and ruled out in 74 patients. Median plasma MMP8 levels were 36.4 (interquartile range 24.8 to 69.3) ng/ml in patients with AAD and 13.2 (8.1 to 31.8) ng/ml in patients receiving an alternative final diagnosis (P <0.0001). Median plasma MMP9 levels were 169.2 (93.0 to 261.8) ng/ml in patients with AAD and 80.5 (41.8 to 140.6) ng/ml in patients receiving an alternative final diagnosis (P = 0.001). The area under the curve (AUC) on receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) analysis of MMP8 and MMP9 for the diagnosis of AAD was respectively 0.75 and 0.70, as compared to 0.87 of D-dimer. At the cutoff of 3.6 ng/ml, plasma MMP8 had a sensitivity of 100.0% (95% CI, 93.2% to 100.0%) and a specificity of 9.5% (95% CI, 3.9% to 18.5%) and ruled out AAD in 5.6% of patients. Combination of plasma MMP8 with D-dimer increased the AUC on ROC analysis to 0.89. Presence of MMP8 <11.0 ng/ml and D-dimer <1.0 or <2.0 µg/ml provided a negative predictive value of 100% and ruled out AAD in 13.6% and 21.4% of patients respectively.
Low levels of plasma MMP8 can rule out AAD in a minority of patients. Combination of plasma MMP8 and D-dimer at individually suboptimal cutoffs could safely rule out AAD in a substantial proportion of patients evaluated in the emergency department.
PMCID: PMC4057269  PMID: 23442769
16.  Targeting PI3K in Cancer: Any Good News? 
Frontiers in Oncology  2013;3:108.
The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathway regulates several cellular processes and it’s one of the most frequently deregulated pathway in human tumors. Given its prominent role in cancer, there is great interest in the development of inhibitors able to target several members of PI3K signaling pathway in clinical trials. These drug candidates include PI3K inhibitors, both pan- and isoform-specific inhibitors, AKT, mTOR, and dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitors. As novel compounds progress into clinical trials, it’s becoming urgent to identify and select patient population that most likely benefit from PI3K inhibition. In this review we will discuss individual PIK3CA mutations as predictors of sensitivity and resistance to targeted therapies, leading to use of novel PI3K/mTOR/AKT inhibitors to a more “personalized” treatment.
PMCID: PMC3647219  PMID: 23658859
PI3K; cancer; therapeutics; genetic determinants; class II phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase
17.  Construction of a Global Pain Systems Network Highlights Phospholipid Signaling as a Regulator of Heat Nociception 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(12):e1003071.
The ability to perceive noxious stimuli is critical for an animal's survival in the face of environmental danger, and thus pain perception is likely to be under stringent evolutionary pressure. Using a neuronal-specific RNAi knock-down strategy in adult Drosophila, we recently completed a genome-wide functional annotation of heat nociception that allowed us to identify α2δ3 as a novel pain gene. Here we report construction of an evolutionary-conserved, system-level, global molecular pain network map. Our systems map is markedly enriched for multiple genes associated with human pain and predicts a plethora of novel candidate pain pathways. One central node of this pain network is phospholipid signaling, which has been implicated before in pain processing. To further investigate the role of phospholipid signaling in mammalian heat pain perception, we analysed the phenotype of PIP5Kα and PI3Kγ mutant mice. Intriguingly, both of these mice exhibit pronounced hypersensitivity to noxious heat and capsaicin-induced pain, which directly mapped through PI3Kγ kinase-dead knock-in mice to PI3Kγ lipid kinase activity. Using single primary sensory neuron recording, PI3Kγ function was mechanistically linked to a negative regulation of TRPV1 channel transduction. Our data provide a systems map for heat nociception and reinforces the extraordinary conservation of molecular mechanisms of nociception across different species.
Author Summary
Nociception is the perception of noxious, potentially damaging stimuli; and this pain or its equivalent behavioral readout is evolutionarily conserved from fruit flies to humans. Using genetic techniques in the fruit fly, we have been able to evaluate the potential functional contribution of every gene in the fruit fly genome for a role in avoidance of high noxious temperatures (heat pain-like responses). Using this functional genomics data set, we have developed a conserved network map of heat pain/nociception that predicts numerous conserved genes and pathways as novel pain pathways, including phospholipid signaling. Studies in multiple mutant mice confirmed a role for lipid signaling in pain perception, and more specifically we identify the critical lipid kinase (PI3Kγ) as a negative regulator of TRPV1 (receptor for noxious heat and capsaicin, the active component in chili peppers) signaling. This finding shows that our fly-based genetic pain network map is a valuable tool for the discovery of novel “nociception genes” in mammals.
PMCID: PMC3516557  PMID: 23236288
18.  Anchoring Proteins as Regulators of Signaling Pathways 
Circulation research  2012;111(4):482-492.
Spatial and temporal organization of signal transduction is coordinated through the segregation of signaling enzymes in selected cellular compartments. This highly evolved regulatory mechanism ensures the activation of selected enzymes only in the vicinity of their target proteins. In this context, cAMP-responsive triggering of protein kinase A is modulated by a family of scaffold proteins referred to as A-kinase anchoring proteins. A-kinase anchoring proteins form the core of multiprotein complexes and enable simultaneous but segregated cAMP signaling events to occur in defined cellular compartments. In this review we will focus on the description of A-kinase anchoring protein function in the regulation of cardiac physiopathology.
PMCID: PMC3508715  PMID: 22859670
AKAP; PKA; cAMP; cardiac disease
19.  IQGAP1 regulates ERK1/2 and AKT signalling in the heart and sustains functional remodelling upon pressure overload 
Cardiovascular Research  2011;91(3):456-464.
The Raf-MEK1/2-ERK1/2 (ERK1/2—extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2) signalling cascade is crucial in triggering cardiac responses to different stress stimuli. Scaffold proteins are key elements in coordinating signalling molecules for their appropriate spatiotemporal activation. Here, we investigated the role of IQ motif-containing GTPase-activating protein 1 (IQGAP1), a scaffold for the ERK1/2 cascade, in heart function and remodelling in response to pressure overload.
Methods and results
IQGAP1-null mice have unaltered basal heart function. When subjected to pressure overload, IQGAP1-null mice initially develop a compensatory hypertrophy indistinguishable from that of wild-type (WT) mice. However, upon a prolonged stimulus, the hypertrophic response develops towards a thinning of left ventricular walls, chamber dilation, and a decrease in contractility, in an accelerated fashion compared with WT mice. This unfavourable cardiac remodelling is characterized by blunted reactivation of the foetal gene programme, impaired cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, and increased cardiomyocyte apoptosis. Analysis of signalling pathways revealed two temporally distinct waves of both ERK1/2 and AKT phosphorylation peaking, respectively, at 10 min and 4 days after aortic banding in WT hearts. IQGAP1-null mice show strongly impaired phosphorylation of MEK1/2-ERK1/2 and AKT following 4 days of pressure overload, but normal activation of these kinases after 10 min. Pull-down experiments indicated that IQGAP1 is able to bind the three components of the ERK cascade, namely c-Raf, MEK1/2, and ERK1/2, as well as AKT in the heart.
These data demonstrate, for the first time, a key role for the scaffold protein IQGAP1 in integrating hypertrophy and survival signals in the heart and regulating long-term left ventricle remodelling upon pressure overload.
PMCID: PMC3294280  PMID: 21493702
IQGAP1; MAPKs; AKT; Heart hypertrophy; Pressure overload
20.  Non-redundant role of CCRL2 in lung dendritic cell trafficking 
Blood  2010;116(16):2942-2949.
CCRL2 is a heptahelic transmembrane receptor that shows the highest degree of homology with CCR1, an inflammatory chemokine receptor. CCRL2 mRNA was rapidly (30 min) and transiently (2-4 hrs) regulated during dendritic cell (DC) maturation. Protein expression paralleled RNA regulation. In vivo, CCRL2 was expressed by activated DC and macrophages, but not by eosinophils and T cells. CCRL2−/− mice showed normal recruitment of circulating DC into the lung but a defective trafficking of antigen-loaded lung DC to mediastinal lymph nodes. This defect was associated to a reduction in lymph node cellularity and reduced priming of Th2 response. CCRL2−/− mice were protected in a model of OVA-induced airway inflammation with reduced leukocyte recruitment in the BAL (eosinophils and mononuclear cells) and reduced production of the Th2 cytokines IL-4 and IL-5 and chemokines CCL11 and CCL17. The central role of CCRL2 deficiency in DC was supported by the fact that adoptive transfer of CCRL2−/− antigen-loaded DC in wild type animals recapitulated the phenotype observed in knock out mice. These data show a nonredundant role of CCRL2 in lung DC trafficking and propose a role for this receptor in the control of excessive airway inflammatory responses.
PMCID: PMC3389732  PMID: 20606167
21.  Receptor tyrosine kinases and TLR/IL1Rs unexpectedly activate myeloid cell PI3Kγ, a single convergent point promoting tumor inflammation and progression 
Cancer cell  2011;19(6):715-727.
Tumor inflammation promotes angiogenesis, immunosuppression and tumor growth, but the mechanisms controlling inflammatory cell recruitment to tumors are not well understood. We found that a range of chemoattractants activating G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and Toll-like/IL-1 receptors (TLR/IL1Rs) unexpectedly initiate tumor inflammation by activating the PI3-kinase isoform p110γ in Gr1+CD11b+ myeloid cells. Whereas GPCRs activate p110γ in a Ras/p101 dependent manner, RTKs and TLR/IL1Rs directly activate p110γ in a Ras/p87-dependent manner. Once activated, p110γ promotes inside-out activation of a single integrin, α4β1, causing myeloid cell invasion into tumors. Pharmacological or genetic blockade of p110γ suppressed inflammation, growth and metastasis of implanted and spontaneous tumors, revealing an important therapeutic target in oncology.
PMCID: PMC3144144  PMID: 21665146
22.  PI3Kγ Mediates Kaposi’s Sarcoma Associated Herpesvirus vGPCR-Induced Sarcomagenesis 
Cancer cell  2011;19(6):805-813.
Angioproliferative tumors induced by the Kaposi’s Sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV) have been successfully treated with rapamycin, which provided direct evidence of the clinical activity of mTOR inhibitors in human malignancies. However, prolonged mTOR inhibition may raise concerns in immunocompromised patients, including AIDS-KS. Here, we explored whether KSHV-oncogenes deploy cell-type specific signaling pathways activating mTOR, which could be exploited to halt KS development while minimizing immune suppressive effects. We found that PI3Kγ, a PI3K isoform exhibiting restricted tissue distribution, is strictly required for signaling from the KSHV-encoded vGPCR oncogene to Akt/mTOR. Indeed, by using an endothelial-specific gene delivery system modeling KS development, we provide genetic and pharmacological evidence that PI3Kγ may represent a suitable molecular target for therapeutic intervention in KS.
PMCID: PMC3170773  PMID: 21665152
23.  Integrating Cardiac PIP3 and cAMP Signaling through a PKA Anchoring Function of p110γ 
Molecular Cell  2011;42(1):84-95.
Adrenergic stimulation of the heart engages cAMP and phosphoinositide second messenger signaling cascades. Cardiac phosphoinositide 3-kinase p110γ participates in these processes by sustaining β-adrenergic receptor internalization through its catalytic function and by controlling phosphodiesterase 3B (PDE3B) activity via an unknown kinase-independent mechanism. We have discovered that p110γ anchors protein kinase A (PKA) through a site in its N-terminal region. Anchored PKA activates PDE3B to enhance cAMP degradation and phosphorylates p110γ to inhibit PIP3 production. This provides local feedback control of PIP3 and cAMP signaling events. In congestive heart failure, p110γ is upregulated and escapes PKA-mediated inhibition, contributing to a reduction in β-adrenergic receptor density. Pharmacological inhibition of p110γ normalizes β-adrenergic receptor density and improves contractility in failing hearts.
PMCID: PMC3265115  PMID: 21474070
24.  Essential Role of the p110β Subunit of Phosphoinositide 3-OH Kinase in Male Fertility 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(5):704-711.
In the absence of p110β function, spermatogenesis is dramatically disturbed because of a progressive reduction of differentiating spermatogones. Genetically modified mice and pharmacological inhibition of p110β confirmed this enzyme as the main PI3K isoform activated downstream of c-Kit.
Phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3K) are key molecular players in male fertility. However, the specific roles of different p110 PI3K catalytic subunits within the spermatogenic lineage have not been characterized so far. Herein, we report that male mice expressing a catalytically inactive p110β develop testicular hypotrophy and impaired spermatogenesis, leading to a phenotype of oligo-azoospermia and defective fertility. The examination of testes from p110β-defective tubules demonstrates a widespread loss in spermatogenic cells, due to defective proliferation and survival of pre- and postmeiotic cells. In particular, p110β is crucially needed in c-Kit–mediated spermatogonial expansion, as c-Kit–positive cells are lost in the adult testis and activation of Akt by SCF is blocked by a p110β inhibitor. These data establish that activation of the p110β PI3K isoform by c-Kit is required during spermatogenesis, thus opening the way to new treatments for c-Kit positive testicular cancers.
PMCID: PMC2828958  PMID: 20053680
25.  Involvement of Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase γ in Angiogenesis and Healing of Experimental Myocardial Infarction in Mice 
Circulation research  2010;106(4):757-768.
Phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)γ is expressed in hematopoietic cells, endothelial cells (ECs), and cardiomyocytes and regulates different cellular functions relevant to inflammation, tissue remodeling and cicatrization. Recently, PI3Kγ inhibitors have been indicated for the treatment of chronic inflammatory/autoimmune diseases and atherosclerosis.
We aimed to determine PI3Kγ contribution to the angiogenic capacity of ECs and the effect of PI3Kγ inhibition on healing of myocardial infarction (MI).
Methods and Results
Human umbilical ECs were treated with a selective PI3Kγ inhibitor, AS605240, or a pan-phosphoinositide 3-kinases inhibitor, LY294002. Both inhibitory treatments and small interfering RNA–mediated PI3Kγ knockdown strongly impaired ECs angiogenic capacity, because of suppression of the PI3K/Akt and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways. Constitutive activation of Akt rescued the angiogenic defect. Reparative angiogenesis was studied in vivo in a model of MI. AS605240 did not affect MI-induced PI3Kγ upregulation, whereas it suppressed Akt activation and downstream signaling. AS605240 strongly reduced inflammation, enhanced cardiomyocyte apoptosis, and impaired survival and proliferation of ECs in peri-infarct zone, which resulted in defective reparative neovascularization. As a consequence, AS605240-treated MI hearts showed increased infarct size and impaired recovery of left ventricular function. Similarly, PI3Kγ-deficient mice showed impaired reparative neovascularization, enhanced cardiomyocyte apoptosis and marked deterioration of cardiac function following MI. Mice expressing catalytically inactive PI3Kγ also failed to mount a proper neovascularization, although cardiac dysfunction was similar to wild-type controls.
PI3Kγ expression and catalytic activity are involved at different levels in reparative neovascularization and healing of MI.
PMCID: PMC2833289  PMID: 20056919
PI3Kγ; Akt; angiogenesis; myocardial infarction

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