Signaling networks associated with AKT activation in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC): New insights on the role of phosphatydil-inositol-3 kinase

Marianna Scrima, Carmela de Marco, Fernanda Fabiani, Renato Franco, Giuseppe Pirozzi, Gaetano Rocco, Maria Ravo, Alessandro Weisz, Pietro Zoppoli, Michele Ceccarelli, Gerardo Botti, Donatella Malanga, Giuseppe Viglietto

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Aberrant activation of PI3K/AKT signalling represents one of the most common molecular alterations in lung cancer, though the relative contribution of the single components of the cascade to the NSCLC development is still poorly defined. In this manuscript we have investigated the relationship between expression and genetic alterations of the components of the PI3K/AKT pathway [KRAS, the catalytic subunit of PI3K (p110α), PTEN, AKT1 and AKT2] and the activation of AKT in 107 surgically resected NSCLCs and have analyzed the existing relationships with clinico-pathologic features. Expression analysis was performed by immunohistochemistry on Tissue Micro Arrays (TMA); mutation analysis was performed by DNA sequencing; copy number variation was determined by FISH. We report that activation of PI3K/AKT pathway in Italian NSCLC patients is associated with high grade (G3-G4 compared with G1-G2; n = 83; p<0.05) and more advanced disease (TNM stage III vs. stages I and II; n = 26; p<0.05). In addition, we found that PTEN loss (41/104, 39%) and the overexpression of p110α (27/92, 29%) represent the most frequent aberration observed in NSCLCs. Less frequent molecular lesions comprised the overexpression of AKT2 (18/83, 22%) or AKT1 (17/96, 18%), and KRAS mutation (7/63, 11%). Our results indicate that, among all genes, only p110α overexpression was significantly associated to AKT activation in NSCLCs (p = 0.02). Manipulation of p110α expression in lung cancer cells carrying an active PI3K allele (NCI-H460) efficiently reduced proliferation of NSCLC cells in vitro and tumour growth in vivo. Finally, RNA profiling of lung epithelial cells (BEAS-2B) expressing a mutant allele of PIK3 (E545K) identified a network of transcription factors such as MYC, FOS and HMGA1, not previously recognised to be associated with aberrant PI3K signalling in lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere30427
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Cite this

Scrima, M., de Marco, C., Fabiani, F., Franco, R., Pirozzi, G., Rocco, G., Ravo, M., Weisz, A., Zoppoli, P., Ceccarelli, M., Botti, G., Malanga, D., & Viglietto, G. (2012). Signaling networks associated with AKT activation in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC): New insights on the role of phosphatydil-inositol-3 kinase. PloS one, 7(2), [e30427].