Activating mutations involving the PI3K pathway occur frequently in human cancers. However, PI3K inhibitors primarily induce cell cycle arrest, leaving a significant reservoir of tumor cells that may acquire or exhibit resistance. We searched for genes that are required for the survival of PI3K mutant cancer cells in the presence of PI3K inhibition by conducting a genome scale shRNA-based apoptosis screen in a PIK3CA mutant human breast cancer cell. We identified 5 genes (PIM2, ZAK, TACC1, ZFR, ZNF565) whose suppression induced cell death upon PI3K inhibition. We showed that small molecule inhibitors of the PIM2 and ZAK kinases synergize with PI3K inhibition. In addition, using a microscale implementable device to deliver either siRNAs or small molecule inhibitors in vivo, we showed that suppressing these 5 genes with PI3K inhibition induced tumor regression. These observations identify targets whose inhibition synergizes with PI3K inhibitors and nominate potential combination therapies involving PI3K inhibition.
- Yaara Zwang
- William C Hahn
- Oliver Jonas
- William C Hahn
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: Animals were maintained under conditions approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (IACUC protocol #04-101) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (IACUC protocol #0412-038-15).
- Chi Van Dang, University of Pennsylvania, United States
© 2017, Zwang et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
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As part of the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology, we published a Registered Report (Phelps et al., 2016) that described how we intended to replicate selected experiments from the paper ‘Coding-independent regulation of the tumor suppressor PTEN by competing endogenous mRNAs’ (Tay et al., 2011). Here, we report the results. We found depletion of putative PTEN competing endogenous mRNAs (ceRNAs) in DU145 cells did not impact PTEN 3’UTR regulation using a reporter, while the original study reported decreased activity when SERINC1, VAPA, and CNOT6L were depleted (Figure 3C; Tay et al., 2011). Using the same reporter, we found decreased activity when ceRNA 3’UTRs were overexpressed, while the original study reported increased activity (Figure 3D; Tay et al., 2011). In HCT116 cells, ceRNA depletion resulted in decreased PTEN protein levels, a result similar to the findings reported in the original study (Figure 3G,H; Tay et al., 2011); however, while the original study reported an attenuated ceRNA effect in microRNA deficient (DicerEx5) HCT116 cells, we observed increased PTEN protein levels. Further, we found depletion of the ceRNAs VAPA or CNOT6L did not statistically impact DU145, wild-type HCT116, or DicerEx5 HCT116 cell proliferation. The original study reported increased DU145 and wild-type HCT116 cell proliferation when these ceRNAs were depleted, which was attenuated in the DicerEx5 HCT116 cells (Figure 5B; Tay et al., 2011). Differences between the original study and this replication attempt, such as variance between biological repeats, are factors that might have influenced the results. Finally, we report meta-analyses for each result.
Cancer testis antigens (CTAs) are proteins whose expression is normally restricted to the testis but anomalously activated in human cancer. In sperm, a number of CTAs support energy generation, however, whether they contribute to tumor metabolism is not understood. We describe human COX6B2, a component of cytochrome c oxidase (complex IV). COX6B2 is expressed in human lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) and expression correlates with reduced survival time. COX6B2, but not its somatic isoform COX6B1, enhances activity of complex IV, increasing oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and NAD+ generation. Consequently, COX6B2-expressing cancer cells display a proliferative advantage, particularly in low oxygen. Conversely, depletion of COX6B2 attenuates OXPHOS and collapses mitochondrial membrane potential leading to cell death or senescence. COX6B2 is both necessary and sufficient for growth of human tumor xenografts in mice. Our findings reveal a previously unappreciated, tumor-specific metabolic pathway hijacked from one of the most ATP-intensive processes in the animal kingdom: sperm motility.