Combined targeting of mTOR and AKT Is an effective strategy for basal-like breast cancer in patient-derived xenograft models

Siguang Xu, Shunqiang Li, Zhanfang Guo, Jingqin Luo, Matthew J. Ellis, Cynthia X. Ma

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40 Scopus citations


Basal-like breast cancer is an aggressive disease for which targeted therapies are lacking. Recent studies showed that basal-like breast cancer is frequently associated with an increased activity of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway, which is critical for cell growth, survival, and angiogenesis. To investigate the therapeutic potential of PI3K pathway inhibition in the treatment of basal-like breast cancer, we evaluated the antitumor effect of themTORinhibitor MK-8669 andAKTinhibitor MK-2206 inWU-BC4and WU-BC5, two patient-derived xenograft models of basal-like breast cancer. Both models showed high levels of AKT phosphorylation and loss of PTEN expression. We observed a synergistic effect of MK-8669 and MK-2206 on tumor growth and cell proliferation in vivo. In addition, MK-8669 and MK-2206 inhibited angiogenesis as determined by CD31 immunohistochemistry. Biomarker studies indicated that treatment with MK-2206 inhibited AKT activation induced by MK-8669. To evaluate the effect of loss of PTEN on tumor cell sensitivity to PI3K pathway inhibition, we knocked down PTEN in WU-BC3, a basal-like breast cancer cell line with intact PTEN. Compared with control (GFP) knockdown, PTEN knockdown led to a more dramatic reduction in cell proliferation and tumor growth inhibition in response to MK-8669 and MK-2206 both in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, a synergistic effect of these two agents on tumor volume was observed in WU-BC3 with PTEN knockdown. Our results provide a preclinical rationale for future clinical investigation of this combination in basal-like breast cancer with loss of PTEN. Mol Cancer Ther; 12(8); 1665-75.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1665-1675
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


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