Targeting the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway for enhancing breast cancer cells to radiotherapy

Ke Liang, Weidong Jin, Christiane Knuefermann, Mathias Schmidt, Gordon B. Mills, K. Kian Ang, Luka Milas, Zhen Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI-3K)/Akt pathway, regulated by its upstream growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases, plays a critical role in promoting cell proliferation and inhibiting cell death. The aim of this study was to determine whether the PI-3K/Akt activity contributes to the resistance of human breast cancer cells to ionizing radiation and whether inhibition of the PI-3K/Akt pathway could sensitize human breast cancer cells to radiotherapy. To determine a causal relationship between the activity of Akt and radioresistance in human breast cancer cells, MCF7 cells, transfected with constitutively active H-Ras (RadG12V) or constitutively active Akt, were chosen for analysis of the cell clonogenic survival fraction and induction of apoptosis after ionizing radiation. The PI-3K-specific inhibitor LY294002 was used to examine whether inhibition of PI-3K could sensitize these cells to radiation treatment. Our results indicate that the expression of constitutively active Ras (which activated Akt in a PI-3K-dependent manner) and the expression of constitutively active Akt (which caused a PI-3K-independent activation of Akt) each increased cellular resistance to radiation. Inhibition of PI-3K with LY294002 reverted the constitutively active Ras-mediated radioresistance but not the constitutively active Akt-mediated radioresistance. Our data suggest that Akt may be a potential target for enhancing the response to radiotherapy in patients with breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-360
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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