Dual targeting of AKT and mammalian target of rapamycin: A potential therapeutic approach for malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor

Changye Y. Zou, Kerrington D. Smith, Quan Sheng Zhu, Jun Liu, Ian E. McCutcheon, John M. Slopis, Funda Meric-Bernstam, Zhenghong Peng, William G. Bornmann, Gordon B. Mills, Alexander J. Lazar, Raphael E. Pollock, Dina Lev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway may constitute a potential target for the treatment of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST). However, investigations of other cancers suggest that mTOR blockade can paradoxically induce activation of prosurvival, protumorigenic signaling molecules, especially upstream AKT. Consequently, we hypothesized that dual phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT-mTOR blockade might be applicable for MPNST treatment. Expression of activated mTOR downstream targets (p4EBP1 and pS6RP) and pAKT was evaluated immunohistochemically in a tissue microarray of human MPNSTs (n = 96) and benign neurofibromas (n = 31). Results were analyzed by Wilcoxon rank-sum tests. mTOR and AKT pathways in human MPNST cell lines, and the effects of rapamycin (mTOR inhibitor), LY294002 (dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor), and PI-103 (potent dual PI3K/AKT-mTOR inhibitor) on pathway activation were evaluated by Western blot. Effects on cell growth were evaluated via MTS and colony formation assays. Cell cycle progression and apoptosis were assessed by propidium iodide/fluorescence-activated cell sorting staining and Annexin V assays. Acridine orange staining/fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis, electron microscopy, andWestern blot evaluated autophagy induction. p4EBP1, pS6Rp, and pAKT levels were found to be significantly higher in MPNST versus neurofibroma (P < 0.05 for all markers). mTOR and AKT pathways were found to be highly activated in MPNST cell lines. MPNST cells were sensitive to rapamycin; however, rapamycin enhanced pAKT and peIF4E expression. PI-103 abrogated MPNST cell growth and induced G 1 cell cycle arrest potentially through repression of cyclin D1. PI-103 did not elicit apoptosis but significantly induced autophagy in MPNST cells. These results suggest further study of combined PI3K/AKT and mTOR inhibition as a novel therapy for patients harboring MPNST.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1157-1168
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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