Gene Summary

Gene:PDK1; pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase, isozyme 1
Summary:Pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) is a mitochondrial multienzyme complex that catalyzes the oxidative decarboxylation of pyruvate and is one of the major enzymes responsible for the regulation of homeostasis of carbohydrate fuels in mammals. The enzymatic activity is regulated by a phosphorylation/dephosphorylation cycle. Phosphorylation of PDH by a specific pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) results in inactivation. Multiple alternatively spliced transcript variants have been found for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Jun 2013]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:[Pyruvate dehydrogenase (acetyl-transferring)] kinase isozyme 1, mitochondrial
Source:NCBIAccessed: 25 June, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 25 June 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 25 June, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (5)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: PDK1 (cancer-related)

Zhao HJ, Ren LL, Wang ZH, et al.
MiR-194 deregulation contributes to colorectal carcinogenesis via targeting AKT2 pathway.
Theranostics. 2014; 4(12):1193-208 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Recent studies have increasingly linked microRNAs to colorectal cancer (CRC). MiR-194 has been reported deregulated in different tumor types, whereas the function of miR-194 in CRC largely remains unexplored. Here we investigated the biological effects, mechanisms and clinical significance of miR-194. Functional assay revealed that overexpression of miR-194 inhibited CRC cell viability and invasion in vitro and suppressed CRC xenograft tumor growth in vivo. Conversely, block of miR-194 in APC(Min/+) mice promoted tumor growth. Furthermore, miR-194 reduced the expression of AKT2 both in vitro and in vivo. Clinically, the expression of miR-194 gradually decreased from 20 normal colorectal mucosa (N-N) cases through 40 colorectal adenomas (CRA) cases and then to 40 CRC cases, and was negatively correlated with AKT2 and pAKT2 expression. Furthermore, expression of miR-194 in stool samples was gradually decreased from 20 healthy cases, 20 CRA cases, then to 28 CRC cases. Low expression of miR-194 in CRC tissues was associated with large tumor size (P=0.006), lymph node metastasis (P=0.012) and shorter survival (HR =2.349, 95% CI = 1.242 to 4.442; P=0.009). In conclusion, our data indicated that miR-194 acted as a tumor suppressor in the colorectal carcinogenesis via targeting PDK1/AKT2/XIAP pathway, and could be a significant diagnostic and prognostic biomarker for CRC.

Al-Khalaf HH, Aboussekhra A
MicroRNA-141 and microRNA-146b-5p inhibit the prometastatic mesenchymal characteristics through the RNA-binding protein AUF1 targeting the transcription factor ZEB1 and the protein kinase AKT.
J Biol Chem. 2014; 289(45):31433-47 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 07/11/2015 Related Publications
miR-141 and miR-146b-5p are two important tumor suppressor microRNAs, which control several cancer-related genes and processes. In the present report, we have shown that these microRNAs bind specific sites at the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of the mRNA-binding protein AUF1, leading to its down-regulation. This inverse correlation between the levels of these microRNAs and AUF1 has been identified in various osteosarcoma cell lines. Additionally, we present clear evidence that AUF1 promotes mesenchymal features in osteosarcoma cells and that miR-141 and miR-146b-5p suppress this prometastatic process through AUF1 repression. Indeed, both microRNAs suppressed the invasion/migration and proliferation abilities of osteosarcoma cells through inhibiting the AKT protein kinase in an AUF1-dependent manner. We have also shown that AUF1 binds to and stabilizes the mRNA of the AKT activator phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1 (PDK1). Furthermore, miR-141 and miR-146b-5p positively regulate the epithelial markers (E-cadherin and Epcam) and repress the mesenchymal markers (N-cadherin, Vimentin, Twist2, and ZEB1). These effects were mediated via the repression of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal inducer ZEB1 through targeting AUF1, which binds the 3'-UTR of the ZEB1 mRNA and reduces its turnover. These results indicate that at least some tumor suppressor functions of miR-141 and miR-146b-5p are mediated through the repression of the oncogenic potentials of AUF1. Therefore, these 3'-UTR-directed post-transcriptional gene expression regulators constitute promising new targets for diagnostic and/or therapeutic interventions.

Thulasiraman P, McAndrews DJ, Mohiudddin IQ
Curcumin restores sensitivity to retinoic acid in triple negative breast cancer cells.
BMC Cancer. 2014; 14:724 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 07/11/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: A major obstacle in the use of retinoid therapy in cancer is the resistance to this agent in tumors. Retinoic acid facilitates the growth of mammary carcinoma cells which express high levels of fatty acid-binding protein 5 (FABP5). This protein delivers retinoic acid to peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor β/δ (PPARβ/δ) that targets genes involved in cell proliferation and survival. One approach to overcome resistance of mammary carcinoma cells to retinoic acid is to target and suppress the FABP5/ PPARβ/δ pathway. The objective of this research was to investigate the effect of curcumin, a polyphenol extract from the plant Curcuma longa, on the FABP5/ PPARβ/δ pathway in retinoic acid resistant triple negative breast cancer cells.
METHODS: Cell viability and proliferation of triple negative breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB-231 and MD-MB-468) treated with curcumin and/or retinoic was analyzed using 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) and 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU). Expression level of FABP5 and PPARβ/δ in these cells treated with curcumin was examined by Western Blotting analysis and Quantitative Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (qRT-PCR). Effect of curcumin and retinoic acid on PPARβ/δ target genes, PDK1and VEGF-A were also examined using qRT-PCR. Western Blotting was utilized to examine the protein expression level of the p65 subunit of NF-κB.
RESULTS: Treatment of retinoic acid resistant triple negative breast cancer cells with curcumin sensitized these cells to retinoic acid mediated growth suppression, as well as suppressed incorporation of BrdU. Further studies demonstrated that curcumin showed a marked reduction in the expression level of FABP5 and PPARβ/δ. We provide evidence that curcumin suppresses p65, a transcription factor known to regulate FABP5. The combination of curcumin with retinoic acid suppressed PPARβ/δ target genes, VEGF-A and PDK1.
CONCLUSIONS: Curcumin suppresses the expression level of FABP5 and PPARβ/δ in triple negative mammary carcinoma cells. By targeting the FABP5/PPARβ/δ pathway, curcumin prevents the delivery of retinoic acid to PPARβ/δ and suppresses retinoic acid-induced PPARβ/δ target gene, VEGF-A. Our data demonstrates that suppression of the FABP5/ PPARβ/δ pathway by curcumin sensitizes retinoic acid resistant triple negative breast cancer cells to retinoic acid mediated growth suppression.

Ohtsubo K, Yamada T, Zhao L, et al.
Expression of Akt kinase-interacting protein 1, a scaffold protein of the PI3K/PDK1/Akt pathway, in pancreatic cancer.
Pancreas. 2014; 43(7):1093-100 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: Akt kinase-interacting protein 1 (Aki1) has been reported to be a scaffold protein of the PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase)/PDK1 (3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase)/Akt pathway and to interact with epidermal growth factor receptor signaling. Although Aki1 has been reported to be expressed in lung cancer, the significance of its expression in pancreatic cancer has not been clarified.
METHODS: The expression of Aki1 and its associated proteins was assayed in pancreatic cancer cell lines, and its involvement in cell viability was examined by treatment with Aki1 small interfering RNA. We also assessed the immunohistochemical expression of Aki1 in tissue samples from 60 patients with pancreatic cancer.
RESULTS: All of the pancreatic cancer cell lines expressed Aki1 and its associated proteins at various levels. Treatment with Aki1 small interfering RNA or PI3K inhibitor inhibited the viability of Panc1 cells. Silencing of Aki1 in Panc1 cells reduced the phosphorylation of Akt and increased the phosphorylation of cleaved PARP. The Aki1 was expressed in 25 (42%) of the 60 pancreatic cancers, but there was no correlation between Aki1 expression and clinicopathologic parameters. We observed a statistically significant correlation between Aki1 and p-Akt expression (P = 0.016).
CONCLUSIONS: Inhibition of the Aki1-Akt axis may be a therapeutic target in some patients with pancreatic cancer.

Hann SS, Tang Q, Zheng F, et al.
Repression of phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 expression by ciglitazone via Egr-1 represents a new approach for inhibition of lung cancer cell growth.
Mol Cancer. 2014; 13:149 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 07/11/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors gamma (PPARγ) ligands have been shown to inhibit the growth of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. However, the mechanisms underlying this effect remain incompletely elucidated.
METHODS: Cell proliferation and apoptosis were measured by cell viability, MTT and caspase3/7 activity assays. Phosphorylation/protein expression and gene silence/overexpression of AMPKα, phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK1), Egr-1 and PPARγ were performed by Western blot and siRNA/transfection assays. Dual-Luciferase Reporter Kit was used to measure the PPAR response elements (PPRE) reporter and PDK1 promoter activities, and ChIP assay was used to detect the Egr-1 protein binding to the DNA site in the PDK1 gene promoter.
RESULTS: We found that ciglitazone, one synthetic PPARγ ligand, inhibited growth and induced apoptosis of NSCLC cells through decreased expression of PDK1, which was not blocked by GW9662 (a specific PPARγ antagonist). Overexpression of PDK1 overcame the effect of ciglitazone on cell growth and caspase 3/7 activity. Ciglitazone increased the phosphorylation of AMPKα and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and the inhibitor of AMPK (compound C), but not JNK (SP600125), reversed the effect of ciglitazone on PDK1 protein expression. Ciglitazone reduced PDK1 gene promoter activity, which was not observed in cells exposed to compound C, but not silenced of PPARγ siRNA. Combination of ciglitazone and metformin further reduced PDK1 expression and promoter activity. Furthermore, we showed that ciglitazone induced the protein expression of Egr-1, which was not observed in cells silencing of AMPKα. Moreover, silencing of Egr-1 abrogated the effect of ciglitazone on PDK1 promoter activity and cell growth. On the contrary, overexpression of Egr-1 enhanced the effect of ciglitazone on PDK1 gene promoter activity. ChIP assays demonstrated that ciglitazone induced Egr-1 protein bind to the specific DNA site in the PDK1 gene promoter.
CONCLUSION: Collectively, our results demonstrate that ciglitazone inhibits PDK1 expression through AMPKα-mediated induction of Egr-1 and Egr-1 binding to the specific DNA site in the PDK1 gene promoter, which is independent of PPARγ. Activation of AMPKα by metformin enhances the effect of ciglitazone. In turn, this leads to inhibition of NSCLC cell proliferation.

Pate KT, Stringari C, Sprowl-Tanio S, et al.
Wnt signaling directs a metabolic program of glycolysis and angiogenesis in colon cancer.
EMBO J. 2014; 33(13):1454-73 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2015 Related Publications
Much of the mechanism by which Wnt signaling drives proliferation during oncogenesis is attributed to its regulation of the cell cycle. Here, we show how Wnt/β-catenin signaling directs another hallmark of tumorigenesis, namely Warburg metabolism. Using biochemical assays and fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) to probe metabolism in vitro and in living tumors, we observe that interference with Wnt signaling in colon cancer cells reduces glycolytic metabolism and results in small, poorly perfused tumors. We identify pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1 (PDK1) as an important direct target within a larger gene program for metabolism. PDK1 inhibits pyruvate flux to mitochondrial respiration and a rescue of its expression in Wnt-inhibited cancer cells rescues glycolysis as well as vessel growth in the tumor microenvironment. Thus, we identify an important mechanism by which Wnt-driven Warburg metabolism directs the use of glucose for cancer cell proliferation and links it to vessel delivery of oxygen and nutrients.

Xiang B, Yi M, Li W, et al.
Expression of oxidored nitro domain-containing protein 1(NOR1) impairs nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells adaptation to hypoxia and inhibits PDK1 expression.
Mol Cell Biochem. 2014; 393(1-2):293-300 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hypoxia is a characteristic pathophysiological property of locally advanced solid tumors and a relevant factor of the tumor (patho-)physiome since it can promote tumor progression and resistance to therapy. Tumors alter their metabolic pathways to survive in nutrient and oxygen poor microenvironments by a process known as the "Warburg Effect." The current studies identify a novel tumor suppressor gene, termed oxidored nitro domain-containing protein 1 (NOR1) which alters hypoxia cellular response in nasopharyngeal carcinoma. NOR1 expression causes apoptosis of tumor cells in hypoxia by altering the expression of PDK1 expression and mitochondrial Bax-Bcl2 balance thus suppress tumor cell adaptation to hypoxia. Although the importance of hypoxia cellular response is well documented in tumor progression, this is the first demonstration of a human tumor suppressor which functions by regulating mitochondrial apoptotic pathways to suppress tumor survival in oxygen poor microenvironments.

He G, Jiang Y, Zhang B, Wu G
The effect of HIF-1α on glucose metabolism, growth and apoptosis of pancreatic cancerous cells.
Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2014; 23(1):174-80 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study is to explore the possible role of HIF-1α in glucose metabolism, proliferation and apoptosis of pancreatic cancerous cells.
METHOD: The pancreatic cancerous BxPC-3 cells were cultured in normoxia or hypoxia (3% O2), respectively. Cell proliferation was determined by MTT assay, apoptosis was determined by Annexin V/PI staining. Expression of Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK1), Lactate dehydrogenase (LDHA), pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) and citrate synthase (CS) was determined by Western-blot and Realtime PCR.
RESULTS: Under hypoxia, the expression of HIF-1α and the lactate production were increased. The expression of glucose metabolic enzymes PDK1, LDHA, PKM2 was also increased compared with that under aerobic condition. Hypoxia treatment had little effect on expression of CS. Under hypoxia, knockdown of HIF-1α inhibited the production of lactate and the expression of PDK1, LDHA and PKM2. Knockdown of HIF-1α repressed the growth of pancreatic cancer BxPC-3 cells and induced apoptosis of the cells under hypoxia.
CONCLUSION: Under hypoxia, the expression of HIF-1α is induced, leading to the increase of glycolysis in BxPC-3 cells possibly through upregulation of the enzymes related to glycolysis. HIF-1α knockdown can inhibit the prolife ratio and promote apoptosis of pancreatic cancerous BxPC-3 cells in vitro.

Fan J, Shan C, Kang HB, et al.
Tyr phosphorylation of PDP1 toggles recruitment between ACAT1 and SIRT3 to regulate the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex.
Mol Cell. 2014; 53(4):534-48 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2015 Related Publications
Mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) is crucial for glucose homeostasis in mammalian cells. The current understanding of PDC regulation involves inhibitory serine phosphorylation of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) by PDH kinase (PDK), whereas dephosphorylation of PDH by PDH phosphatase (PDP) activates PDC. Here, we report that lysine acetylation of PDHA1 and PDP1 is common in epidermal growth factor (EGF)-stimulated cells and diverse human cancer cells. K321 acetylation inhibits PDHA1 by recruiting PDK1, and K202 acetylation inhibits PDP1 by dissociating its substrate PDHA1, both of which are important in promoting glycolysis in cancer cells and consequent tumor growth. Moreover, we identified mitochondrial ACAT1 and SIRT3 as the upstream acetyltransferase and deacetylase, respectively, of PDHA1 and PDP1, while knockdown of ACAT1 attenuates tumor growth. Furthermore, Y381 phosphorylation of PDP1 dissociates SIRT3 and recruits ACAT1 to PDC. Together, hierarchical, distinct posttranslational modifications act in concert to control molecular composition of PDC and contribute to the Warburg effect.

Zhou J, Song S, He S, et al.
MicroRNA-375 targets PDK1 in pancreatic carcinoma and suppresses cell growth through the Akt signaling pathway.
Int J Mol Med. 2014; 33(4):950-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
MicroRNAs (miRNAs or miRs) are believed to have great potential for use as molecular targets in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In this study, we demonstrate that miR-375 is downregulated in pancreatic carcinoma (PC) tissues and PC cell lines. We found that miR-375 negatively regulates the expression of 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK1) by directly targeting the 3'UTR of the PDK1 transcript. To investigate the biological roles and the potential mechanisms of action of miR‑375, we induced either the up- or downregulation of miR-375 expression by transfecting various PC cells with miR-375 mimics or an inhibitor. Our results revealed that the upregulation of miR-375 inhibited cell growth and induced cell apoptosis, while the downregulation of miR-375 with the inhibitor had the opposite effect. In addition, our data demonstrate that miR-375 suppresses the malignant behavior of PC cells through the Akt signaling pathway rather than mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways. Taken together, our findings indicate that targeting miR-375 by a genetic approach may provide a novel strategy for the treatment of PC.

Takahashi K, Yan IK, Haga H, Patel T
Modulation of hypoxia-signaling pathways by extracellular linc-RoR.
J Cell Sci. 2014; 127(Pt 7):1585-94 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2015 Related Publications
Resistance to adverse environmental conditions, such as hypoxia, contributes to the reduced efficacy of anticancer therapies and tumor progression. Although deregulated expression of many long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) occurs in human cancers, the contribution of such RNA to tumor responses to hypoxia are unknown. RNA expression profiling identified several hypoxia-responsive lncRNAs, including the long intergenic noncoding RNA, regulator of reprogramming (linc-RoR), which is also increased in expression in malignant liver cancer cells. Linc-RoR expression was increased in hypoxic regions within tumor cell xenografts in vivo. Tumor cell viability during hypoxia was reduced by small interfering RNA (siRNA) to linc-RoR. Compared with controls, siRNA to linc-RoR decreased phosphorylation of p70S6K1 (RPS6KB1), PDK1 and HIF-1α protein expression and increased expression of the linc-RoR target microRNA-145 (miR-145). Linc-RoR was highly expressed in extracellular RNA released by hepatocellular cancer (HCC) cells during hypoxia. Incubation with extracellular vesicle preparations containing extracellular RNA increased linc-RoR, HIF-1α expression and cell survival in recipient cells. These studies show that linc-RoR is a hypoxia-responsive lncRNA that is functionally linked to hypoxia signaling in HCC through a miR-145-HIF-1α signaling module. Furthermore, this work identifies a mechanistic role for the extracellular transfer of linc-RoR in intercellular signaling to promote cell survival during hypoxic stress.

Chesnelong C, Chaumeil MM, Blough MD, et al.
Lactate dehydrogenase A silencing in IDH mutant gliomas.
Neuro Oncol. 2014; 16(5):686-95 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Mutations of the isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 and 2 gene (IDH1/2) were initially thought to enhance cancer cell survival and proliferation by promoting the Warburg effect. However, recent experimental data have shown that production of 2-hydroxyglutarate by IDH mutant cells promotes hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)1α degradation and, by doing so, may have unexpected metabolic effects.
METHODS: We used human glioma tissues and derived brain tumor stem cells (BTSCs) to study the expression of HIF1α target genes in IDH mutant ((mt)) and IDH wild-type ((wt)) tumors. Focusing thereafter on the major glycolytic enzyme, lactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA), we used standard molecular methods and pyrosequencing-based DNA methylation analysis to identify mechanisms by which LDHA expression was regulated in human gliomas.
RESULTS: We found that HIF1α-responsive genes, including many essential for glycolysis (SLC2A1, PDK1, LDHA, SLC16A3), were underexpressed in IDH(mt) gliomas and/or derived BTSCs. We then demonstrated that LDHA was silenced in IDH(mt) derived BTSCs, including those that did not retain the mutant IDH1 allele (mIDH(wt)), matched BTSC xenografts, and parental glioma tissues. Silencing of LDHA was associated with increased methylation of the LDHA promoter, as was ectopic expression of mutant IDH1 in immortalized human astrocytes. Furthermore, in a search of The Cancer Genome Atlas, we found low expression and high methylation of LDHA in IDH(mt) glioblastomas.
CONCLUSION: To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of downregulation of LDHA in cancer. Although unexpected findings, silencing of LDHA and downregulation of several other glycolysis essential genes raise the intriguing possibility that IDH(mt) gliomas have limited glycolytic capacity, which may contribute to their slow growth and better prognosis.

Zabkiewicz J, Pearn L, Hills RK, et al.
The PDK1 master kinase is over-expressed in acute myeloid leukemia and promotes PKC-mediated survival of leukemic blasts.
Haematologica. 2014; 99(5):858-64 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2015 Related Publications
PDK1 is a master kinase that activates at least six protein kinase groups including AKT, PKC and S6K and is a potential target in the treatment of a range of malignancies. Here we show overexpression of PDK1 in over 40% of myelomonocytic acute leukemia patients. Overexpression of PDK1 occurred uniformly throughout the leukemic population, including putative leukemia-initiating cells. Clinical outcome analysis revealed PDK1 overexpression was associated with poorer treatment outcome. Primary acute myeloid leukemia blasts over-expressing PDK1 showed improved in vitro survival and ectopic expression of PDK1 promoted the survival of myeloid cell lines. Analysis of PDK1 target kinases revealed that PDK1 overexpression was most closely associated with increased phosphorylation of PKC isoenzymes and inhibition of PKC strongly inhibited the survival advantage of PDK1 over-expressing cells. Membrane localization studies implicated PKCα as a major target for PDK1 in this disease. PDK1 over-expressing blasts showed differential sensitivity to PDK1 inhibition (in the low micromolar range) suggesting oncogene addiction, whilst normal bone marrow progenitors were refractory to PDK1 inhibition at effective inhibitor concentrations. PDK1 inhibition also targeted subpopulations of leukemic blasts with a putative leukemia-initiating cell phenotype. Together these data show that overexpression of PDK1 is common in acute myelomonocytic leukemia and is associated with poorer treatment outcome, probably arising from the cytoprotective function of PDK1. We also show that therapeutic targeting of PDK1 has the potential to be both an effective and selective treatment for these patients, and is also compatible with current treatment regimes.

Cizkova M, Vacher S, Meseure D, et al.
PIK3R1 underexpression is an independent prognostic marker in breast cancer.
BMC Cancer. 2013; 13:545 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The present study focused on the prognostic roles of PIK3CA and PIK3R1 genes and additional PI3K pathway-associated genes in breast cancer.
METHODS: The mutational and mRNA expression status of PIK3CA, PIK3R1 and AKT1, and expression status of other genes involved in the PI3K pathway (EGFR, PDK1, PTEN, AKT2, AKT3, GOLPH3, WEE1, P70S6K) were assessed in a series of 458 breast cancer samples.
RESULTS: PIK3CA mutations were identified in 151 samples (33.0%) in exons 1, 2, 9 and 20. PIK3R1 mutations were found in 10 samples (2.2%) and underexpression in 283 samples (61.8%). AKT1 mutations were found in 15 samples (3.3%) and overexpression in 116 samples (25.3%). PIK3R1 underexpression tended to mutual exclusivity with PIK3CA mutations (p = 0.00097). PIK3CA mutations were associated with better metastasis-free survival and PIK3R1 underexpression was associated with poorer metastasis-free survival (p = 0.014 and p = 0.00028, respectively). By combining PIK3CA mutation and PIK3R1 expression status, four prognostic groups were identified with significantly different metastasis-free survival (p = 0.00046). On Cox multivariate regression analysis, the prognostic significance of PIK3R1 underexpression was confirmed in the total population (p = 0.0013) and in breast cancer subgroups.
CONCLUSIONS: PIK3CA mutations and PIK3R1 underexpression show opposite effects on patient outcome and could become useful prognostic and predictive factors in breast cancer.

Yan JW, Lin JS, He XX
The emerging role of miR-375 in cancer.
Int J Cancer. 2014; 135(5):1011-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are evolutionarily conserved, small noncoding RNAs that are believed to play fundamental roles in various biological processes through regulation of gene expression at the level of posttranscription. MiR-375 was first identified as a pancreatic islet-specific miRNA regulating insulin secretion. However, further study revealed that miR-375 is a multifunctional miRNA participating in pancreatic islet development, glucose homeostasis, mucosal immunity, lung surfactant secretion and more importantly, tumorigenesis. Recently, miR-375 has been found significantly downregulated in multiple types of cancer, and suppresses core hallmarks of cancer by targeting several important oncogenes like AEG-1, YAP1, IGF1R and PDK1. The alteration of miR-375 in cancer is caused by a variety of mechanisms, including the dysregulation of transcription factors, aberrant promoter methylation and so on. Reduced expression of miR-375 in tissue or circulation may indicate the presence of neoplasia as well as a poor prognosis of many malignant cancers. Moreover, miR-375 stands for a promising direction for developing targeted therapies due to its capacity to inhibit tumor cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Here, we summarize the present understanding of the tumor suppressive role of miR-375 in cancer progression; the mechanisms underlying the dysregulation of miR-375; the potential use of miR-375 in prognosis and diagnosis and the therapeutic prospects of miR-375 in cancer.

Velpula KK, Bhasin A, Asuthkar S, Tsung AJ
Combined targeting of PDK1 and EGFR triggers regression of glioblastoma by reversing the Warburg effect.
Cancer Res. 2013; 73(24):7277-89 [PubMed] Related Publications
Glioblastoma multiforme is the most aggressive primary brain tumor in adults. Overexpression of the EGF receptor (EGFR) is recognized as a widespread oncogenic signature in glioblastoma multiforme, but the complexity of its contributions is not fully understood, nor the most effective ways to leverage anti-EGFR therapy in this setting. Hypoxia is known to drive the aggressive character of glioblastoma multiforme by promoting aerobic glycolysis rather than pyruvate oxidation carried out in mitochondria (OXPHOS), a phenomenon termed the Warburg effect, which is a general feature of oncogenesis. In this study, we report that hypoxia drives expression of the pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK1) and EGFR along with the hypoxia-inducing factor (HIF)-1α in human glioblastoma multiforme cells. PDK1 is a HIF-1-regulated gene and our findings indicated that hypoxia-induced PDK1 expression may promote EGFR activation, initiating a feed-forward loop that can sustain malignant progression. RNAi-mediated attenuation of PDK1 and EGFR lowered PDK1-EGFR activation and decreased HIF-1α expression, shifting the Warburg phenotype to OXPHOS and inhibiting glioblastoma multiforme growth and proliferation. In clinical specimens of glioblastoma multiforme, we found that immunohistochemical expression of PDK1, EGFR, and HIF-1α were elevated in glioblastoma multiforme specimens when compared with normal brain tissues. Collectively, our studies establish PDK1 as a key driver and candidate therapeutic target in glioblastoma multiforme.

Fu Z, Ren L, Wei H, et al.
Effects of Tyroserleutide on phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase/AKT pathway in human hepatocellular carcinoma cell.
J Drug Target. 2014; 22(2):146-55 [PubMed] Related Publications
Tyroserleutide (YSL) is an active, low-molecular-weight polypeptide with in vitro and in vivo anticancer effects on human hepatocellular carcinoma BEL-7402 cells. In this study, we studied the effects of YSL on PI3K/AKT in the BEL-7402 cells to explore its anti-tumor mechanism. Results showed that YSL could up-regulate the mRNA and protein expression of tumor suppressor PTEN and increase their activities, meanwhile inhibited the mRNA and protein expression of oncogene AKT and decreased the kinase activities of AKT and PDK1. The resuming balance effect of YSL between PTEN and AKT could prevent the transmission of tumor cell proliferation signals in the PI3K/AKT pathway. Inhibition of AKT would change the status of downstream effectors in the PI3K/AKT pathway: (1) inhibition of AKT up-regulated expression of cell cycle regulatory factors of downstream - P21 and P27 which repressed cell cycle and inhibited proliferation of tumor cells. (2) Inhibition of AKT decreased the phosphorylation level of MDM2, and then increased the protein level of P53 which would accelerate death proceeding of tumor cells. (3) Inactivation of AKT removed its inhibition effect on phosphorylation of Bad, which might decrease protein level of apoptosis inhibitor Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL, damaging mitochondria of tumor cells and inducing apoptosis.

Garcia-Carracedo D, Turk AT, Fine SA, et al.
Loss of PTEN expression is associated with poor prognosis in patients with intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms of the pancreas.
Clin Cancer Res. 2013; 19(24):6830-41 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2015 Related Publications
PURPOSE: Previously, we reported PIK3CA gene mutations in high-grade intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMN). However, the contribution of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase pathway (PI3K) dysregulation to pancreatic carcinogenesis is not fully understood and its prognostic value unknown. We investigated the dysregulation of the PI3K signaling pathway in IPMN and its clinical implication.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Thirty-six IPMN specimens were examined by novel mutant-enriched sequencing methods for hot-spot mutations in the PIK3CA and AKT1 genes. PIK3CA and AKT1 gene amplifications and loss of heterozygosity at the PTEN locus were also evaluated. In addition, the expression levels of PDPK1/PDK1, PTEN, and Ki67 were analyzed by immunohistochemistry.
RESULTS: Three cases carrying the E17K mutation in the AKT1 gene and one case harboring the H1047R mutation in the PIK3CA gene were detected among the 36 cases. PDK1 was significantly overexpressed in the high-grade IPMN versus low-grade IPMN (P = 0.034) and in pancreatic and intestinal-type of IPMN versus gastric-type of IPMN (P = 0.020). Loss of PTEN expression was strongly associated with presence of invasive carcinoma and poor survival in these IPMN patients (P = 0.014).
CONCLUSION: This is the first report of AKT1 mutations in IPMN. Our data indicate that oncogenic activation of the PI3K pathway can contribute to the progression of IPMN, in particular loss of PTEN expression. This finding suggests the potential employment of PI3K pathway-targeted therapies for IPMN patients. The incorporation of PTEN expression status in making surgical decisions may also benefit IPMN patients and should warrant further investigation.

Prigione A, Rohwer N, Hoffmann S, et al.
HIF1α modulates cell fate reprogramming through early glycolytic shift and upregulation of PDK1-3 and PKM2.
Stem Cells. 2014; 32(2):364-76 [PubMed] Related Publications
Reprogramming somatic cells to a pluripotent state drastically reconfigures the cellular anabolic requirements, thus potentially inducing cancer-like metabolic transformation. Accordingly, we and others previously showed that somatic mitochondria and bioenergetics are extensively remodeled upon derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), as the cells transit from oxidative to glycolytic metabolism. In the attempt to identify possible regulatory mechanisms underlying this metabolic restructuring, we investigated the contributing role of hypoxia-inducible factor one alpha (HIF1α), a master regulator of energy metabolism, in the induction and maintenance of pluripotency. We discovered that the ablation of HIF1α function in dermal fibroblasts dramatically hampers reprogramming efficiency, while small molecule-based activation of HIF1α significantly improves cell fate conversion. Transcriptional and bioenergetic analysis during reprogramming initiation indicated that the transduction of the four factors is sufficient to upregulate the HIF1α target pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (PDK) one and set in motion the glycolytic shift. However, additional HIF1α activation appears critical in the early upregulation of other HIF1α-associated metabolic regulators, including PDK3 and pyruvate kinase (PK) isoform M2 (PKM2), resulting in increased glycolysis and enhanced reprogramming. Accordingly, elevated levels of PDK1, PDK3, and PKM2 and reduced PK activity could be observed in iPSCs and human embryonic stem cells in the undifferentiated state. Overall, the findings suggest that the early induction of HIF1α targets may be instrumental in iPSC derivation via the activation of a glycolytic program. These findings implicate the HIF1α pathway as an enabling regulator of cellular reprogramming.

Li W, Chen L, Li X, et al.
Cancer-related marketing centrality motifs acting as pivot units in the human signaling network and mediating cross-talk between biological pathways.
Mol Biosyst. 2013; 9(12):3026-35 [PubMed] Related Publications
Network motifs in central positions are considered to not only have more in-coming and out-going connections but are also localized in an area where more paths reach the networks. These central motifs have been extensively investigated to determine their consistent functions or associations with specific function categories. However, their functional potentials in the maintenance of cross-talk between different functional communities are unclear. In this paper, we constructed an integrated human signaling network from the Pathway Interaction Database. We identified 39 essential cancer-related motifs in central roles, which we called cancer-related marketing centrality motifs, using combined centrality indices on the system level. Our results demonstrated that these cancer-related marketing centrality motifs were pivotal units in the signaling network, and could mediate cross-talk between 61 biological pathways (25 could be mediated by one motif on average), most of which were cancer-related pathways. Further analysis showed that molecules of most marketing centrality motifs were in the same or adjacent subcellular localizations, such as the motif containing PI3K, PDK1 and AKT1 in the plasma membrane, to mediate signal transduction between 32 cancer-related pathways. Finally, we analyzed the pivotal roles of cancer genes in these marketing centrality motifs in the pathogenesis of cancers, and found that non-cancer genes were potential cancer-related genes.

Rajput S, Kumar BN, Dey KK, et al.
Molecular targeting of Akt by thymoquinone promotes G(1) arrest through translation inhibition of cyclin D1 and induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells.
Life Sci. 2013; 93(21):783-90 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIM: Thymoquinone (TQ), the predominant bioactive constituent of black seed oil (Nigella Sativa), has been shown to possess antineoplastic activity against multifarious tumors. However, the meticulous mechanism of TQ on Akt mediated survival pathway is still unrevealed in breast cancer. Here, we investigated TQ's mechanism of action against PI3K/Akt signaling and its downstream targets by modulating proteins translational machinery, leading to apoptosis in cancer cells.
MAIN METHODS: MDA-MB-468 and T-47D cells were treated with TQ and evaluated for its anticancer activity through phase distribution and western blot. Modulatory effects of TQ on Akt were affirmed through kinase and drug potential studies.
KEY FINDINGS: Studies revealed G1 phase arrest till 24h incubation with TQ while extended exposure showed phase shift to subG1 indicating apoptosis, supported by suppression of cyclin D1, cyclin E and cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor p27 expression. Immunoblot and membrane potential studies revealed mitochondrial impairment behind apoptotic process with upregulation of Bax, cytoplasmic cytochrome c and procaspase-3, PARP cleavage along with Bcl-2, Bcl-xL and survivin downregulation. Moreover, we construed the rationale behind mitochondrial dysfunction by examining the phosphorylation status of PDK1, PTEN, Akt, c-raf, GSK-3β and Bad in TQ treated cells, thus ratifying the involvement of Akt in apoptosis. Further, the consequential effect of Akt inhibition by TQ is proven by translational repression through deregulated phosphorylation of 4E-BP1, eIF4E, S6R and p70S6K.
SIGNIFICANCE: Our observations for the first time may provide a new insight for the development of novel therapies for Akt overexpressed breast cancer by TQ.

Xia W, Petricoin EF, Zhao S, et al.
An heregulin-EGFR-HER3 autocrine signaling axis can mediate acquired lapatinib resistance in HER2+ breast cancer models.
Breast Cancer Res. 2013; 15(5):R85 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2015 Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: The human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) oncogene is an attractive therapeutic target for the treatment of HER2-addicted tumors. Although lapatinib, an FDA-approved small-molecule HER2 and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), represents a significant therapeutic advancement in the treatment of HER2+ breast cancers, responses to lapatinib have not been durable. Consequently, elucidation of mechanisms of acquired therapeutic resistance to HER-directed therapies is of critical importance.
METHODS: Using a functional protein-pathway activation mapping strategy, along with targeted genomic knockdowns applied to a series of isogenic-matched pairs of lapatinib-sensitive and resistant cell lines, we now report an unexpected mechanism of acquired resistance to lapatinib and similar TKIs.
RESULTS: The signaling analysis revealed that whereas HER2 was appropriately inhibited in lapatinib-resistant cells, EGFR tyrosine phosphorylation was incompletely inhibited. Using a targeted molecular knockdown approach to interrogate the causal molecular underpinnings of EGFR-persistent activation, we found that lapatinib-resistant cells were no longer oncogene addicted to HER2-HER3-PI3K signaling, as seen in the parental lapatinib-sensitive cell lines, but instead were dependent on a heregulin (HRG)-driven HER3-EGFR-PI3K-PDK1 signaling axis. Two FDA-approved EGFR TKIs could not overcome HRG-HER3-mediated activation of EGFR, or reverse lapatinib resistance. The ability to overcome EGFR-mediated acquired therapeutic resistance to lapatinib was demonstrated through molecular knockdown of EGFR and treatment with the irreversible pan-HER TKI neratinib, which blocked HRG-dependent phosphorylation of HER3 and EGFR, resulting in apoptosis of resistant cells. In addition, whereas HRG reversed lapatinib-mediated antitumor effects in parental HER2+ breast cancer cells, neratinib was comparatively resistant to the effects of HRG in parental cells. Finally, we showed that HRG expression is an independent negative predictor of clinical outcome in HER2+ breast cancers, providing potential clinical relevance to our findings.
CONCLUSIONS: Molecular analysis of acquired therapeutic resistance to lapatinib identified a new resistance mechanism based on incomplete and "leaky" inhibition of EGFR by lapatinib. The selective pressure applied by incomplete inhibition of the EGFR drug target resulted in selection of ligand-driven feedback that sustained EGFR activation in the face of constant exposure to the drug. Inadequate target inhibition driven by a ligand-mediated autocrine feedback loop may represent a broader mechanism of therapeutic resistance to HER TKIs and suggests adopting a different strategy for selecting more effective TKIs to advance into the clinic.

Scortegagna M, Ruller C, Feng Y, et al.
Genetic inactivation or pharmacological inhibition of Pdk1 delays development and inhibits metastasis of Braf(V600E)::Pten(-/-) melanoma.
Oncogene. 2014; 33(34):4330-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2015 Related Publications
Phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1 (PDK1) is a serine/threonine protein kinase that phosphorylates members of the conserved AGC kinase superfamily, including AKT and protein kinase C (PKC), and is implicated in important cellular processes including survival, metabolism and tumorigenesis. In large cohorts of nevi and melanoma samples, PDK1 expression was significantly higher in primary melanoma, compared with nevi, and was further increased in metastatic melanoma. PDK1 expression suffices for its activity, owing to auto-activation, or elevated phosphorylation by phosphoinositide 3'-OH-kinase (PI3K). Selective inactivation of Pdk1 in the melanocytes of Braf(V600E)::Pten(-/-) or Braf(V600E)::Cdkn2a(-/-)::Pten(-/-) mice delayed the development of pigmented lesions and melanoma induced by systemic or local administration of 4-hydroxytamoxifen. Melanoma invasion and metastasis were significantly reduced or completely prevented by Pdk1 deletion. Administration of the PDK1 inhibitor GSK2334470 (PDKi) effectively delayed melanomagenesis and metastasis in Braf(V600E)::Pten(-/-) mice. Pdk1(-/-) melanomas exhibit a marked decrease in the activity of AKT, P70S6K and PKC. Notably, PDKi was as effective in inhibiting AGC kinases and colony forming efficiency of melanoma with Pten wild-type (WT) genotypes. Gene expression analyses identified Pdk1-dependent changes in FOXO3a-regulated genes, and inhibition of FOXO3a restored proliferation and colony formation of Pdk1(-/-) melanoma cells. Our studies provide direct genetic evidence for the importance of PDK1, in part through FOXO3a-dependent pathway, in melanoma development and progression.

Tan J, Li Z, Lee PL, et al.
PDK1 signaling toward PLK1-MYC activation confers oncogenic transformation, tumor-initiating cell activation, and resistance to mTOR-targeted therapy.
Cancer Discov. 2013; 3(10):1156-71 [PubMed] Related Publications
UNLABELLED: Although 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1 (PDK1) has been predominately linked to the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-AKT pathway, it may also evoke additional signaling outputs to promote tumorigenesis. Here, we report that PDK1 directly induces phosphorylation of Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1), which in turn induces MYC phosphorylation and protein accumulation. We show that PDK1-PLK1-MYC signaling is critical for cancer cell growth and survival, and small-molecule inhibition of PDK1/PLK1 provides an effective approach for therapeutic targeting of MYC dependency. Intriguingly, PDK1-PLK1-MYC signaling induces an embryonic stem cell-like gene signature associated with aggressive tumor behaviors and is a robust signaling axis driving cancer stem cell (CSC) self-renewal. Finally, we show that a PLK1 inhibitor synergizes with an mTOR inhibitor to induce synergistic antitumor effects in colorectal cancer by antagonizing compensatory MYC induction. These findings identify a novel pathway in human cancer and CSC activation and provide a therapeutic strategy for targeting MYC-associated tumorigenesis and therapeutic resistance.
SIGNIFICANCE: This work identifies PDK1–PLK1-MYC signaling as a new oncogenic pathway driving oncogenic transformation and CSC self-renewal. Targeted inhibition of PDK1/PLK1 is robust in targeting MYC dependency in cancer cells. Thus, our findings provide important insights into cancer and CSC biology and have significant therapeutic implications.

Reis H, Hager T, Wohlschlaeger J, et al.
Mammalian target of rapamycin pathway activity in alveolar soft part sarcoma.
Hum Pathol. 2013; 44(10):2266-74 [PubMed] Related Publications
Alveolar soft part sarcoma (ASPS) is a distinct type of soft tissue sarcoma holding a specific ASPL-TFE3 fusion transcript. Curative therapy is based on surgical removal, whereas lately, antiangiogenic targeted therapy regimens have proven effective. In ASPS, analysis of small series additionally display mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathway activity, thus making mTOR a possible additive target in ASPS, because it is in other tumor entities. Therefore, we systematically evaluated mTOR pathway activity in a large series of ASPS in comparison with soft tissue sarcomas of other differentiation (non-ASPS). Upstream and downstream factors of mTOR signaling and ancillary targets were analyzed in 103 cases (22 ASPS, 81 non-ASPS) by immunohistochemistry mostly using phospho-specific antibodies. TFE3 (transcription factor for immunoglobulin heavy-chain enhancer 3) translocation status was determined by FISH and RT-PCR. All ASPS were positive in TFE3 break-apart FISH and exhibited specific fusion products when RNA was available (type 1: 9x, type 2: 11x), whereas TFE3-immunoreactive non-ASPS did not. In ASPS, TFE3-, cMET-, pAKT T308- (all P < .0001), pp70S6K- (P = .002), and p4EBP1 (P = .087) expression levels were elevated, whereas pAKT S473 was decreased (P < .0001). In addition, ASPS exhibited higher TFE3-, cMET-, pAKT T308-, and pp70S6K- expression levels compared with TFE3-immunopositive non-ASPS sarcomas (all P < .001). We demonstrate elevated mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) activity in ASPS independent of mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2) activation. mTORC1 activity seems to be related to the existence of ASPL-TFE3 fusion transcripts because TFE3-immunoreactive non-ASPS without ASPL-TFE3 fusion transcripts exhibit significantly lower mTORC1 activation status. Small molecule-based targeting of mTOR might therefore represent a potential mechanism in ASPS alone or in combination with contemporary upstream approaches.

Hann SS, Zheng F, Zhao S
Targeting 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 by N-acetyl-cysteine through activation of peroxisome proliferators activated receptor alpha in human lung cancer cells, the role of p53 and p65.
J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2013; 32:43 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC), a natural sulfur-containing amino acid derivative, and peroxisome proliferators activated receptor alpha (PPARα) ligand have been shown to have anticancer properties. However, the mechanisms by which these agents inhibit human non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) cell growth have not been well elucidated.
METHODS: Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) were used to knockdown 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK1), PPARα, p65 and p53 genes; Western Blot was performed to detect the protein expression of PDK1, PPARα, p65 and p53; Cell viability and MTT assays were carried out to determine the cell proliferation; Transient transfection and Dual-Luciferase Reporter assays were used to transfect siRNAs or exogenous expression vectors, and to measure the gene promoter activity.
RESULTS: We showed that NAC inhibited NSCLC cell proliferation through reduction of PDK1 expression. NAC also induced the protein expression of PPARα. While PPARα ligand enhanced, PPARα antagonist and siRNA abrogated the effect of NAC on PDK1 promoter activity, protein expression and cell growth. Overexpression of PDK1 diminished the inhibitory effect of NAC on cell proliferation. NAC induced p53 and reduced p65 protein expression through activation of PPARα. Silencing of p53 and overexpression of p65 blocked the effect of NAC on PDK1 promoter activity and protein expression.
CONCLUSION: Our results show that NAC inhibits PDK1 expression through PPARα-mediated induction of p53 and inhibition of p65 protein expression. PPARα ligand enhances the effect of NAC. This ultimately inhibits NSCLC cell growth. This study unveils a novel mechanism by which NAC in combination with PPARα ligand inhibits growth of human lung carcinoma cells.

Park HJ, Kim MS, Cho K, et al.
Disulfiram deregulates HIF-α subunits and blunts tumor adaptation to hypoxia in hepatoma cells.
Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2013; 34(9):1208-16 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2015 Related Publications
AIM: Disulfiram is an aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibitor that was used to treat alcoholism and showed anticancer activity, but its anticancer mechanism remains unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of disulfiram on the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-driven tumor adaptation to hypoxia in vitro.
METHODS: Hep3B, Huh7 and HepG2 hepatoma cells were incubated under normoxic (20% O2) or hypoxic (1% O2) conditions for 16 h. The expression and activity of HIF-1α and HIF-2α proteins were evaluated using immunoblotting and luciferase reporter assay, respectively. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR was used to analyze HIF-mediated gene expression. Endothelial tubule formation assay was used to evaluate the anti-angiogenic effect.
RESULTS: Hypoxia caused marked expression of HIF-1α and HIF-1α in the 3 hepatoma cell lines, dramatically increased HIF activity and induced the expression of HIF downstream genes (EPO, CA9, VEGF-A and PDK1) in Hep3B cells. HIF-2α expression was positively correlated with the induction of hypoxic genes (CA9, VEGF-A and PDK1). Moreover, hypoxia markedly increased VEGF production and angiogenic potential of Hep3B cells. Disulfiram (0.3 to 2 μmol/L) inhibited hypoxia-induced gene expression and HIF activity in a dose-dependent manner. Disulfiram more effectively suppressed the viability of Hep3B cells under hypoxia, but it did not affect the cell cycle. Overexpression of HIF-2α in Hep3B cells reversed the inhibitory effects of disulfiram on hypoxia-induced gene expression and cell survival under hypoxia.
CONCLUSION: Disulfiram deregulates the HIF-mediated hypoxic signaling pathway in hepatoma cells, which may contribute to its anticancer effect. Thus, disulfiram could be used to treat solid tumors that grow in a HIF-dependent manner.

Lin CY, Huo C, Kuo LK, et al.
Cholestane-3β, 5α, 6β-triol suppresses proliferation, migration, and invasion of human prostate cancer cells.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(6):e65734 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2015 Related Publications
Oxysterols are oxidation products of cholesterol. Cholestane-3β, 5α, 6β-triol (abbreviated as triol) is one of the most abundant and active oxysterols. Here, we report that triol exhibits anti-cancer activity against human prostate cancer cells. Treatment of cells with triol dose-dependently suppressed proliferation of LNCaP CDXR-3, DU-145, and PC-3 human prostate cancer cells and reduced colony formation in soft agar. Oral administration of triol at 20 mg/kg daily for three weeks significantly retarded the growth of PC-3 xenografts in nude mice. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that triol treatment at 10-40 µM caused G1 cell cycle arrest while the TUNEL assay indicated that triol treatment at 20-40 µM induced apoptosis in all three cell lines. Micro-Western Arrays and traditional Western blotting methods indicated that triol treatment resulted in reduced expression of Akt1, phospho-Akt Ser473, phospho-Akt Thr308, PDK1, c-Myc, and Skp2 protein levels as well as accumulation of the cell cycle inhibitor p27(Kip). Triol treatment also resulted in reduced Akt1 protein expression in PC-3 xenografts. Overexpression of Skp2 in PC-3 cells partially rescued the growth inhibition caused by triol. Triol treatment suppressed migration and invasion of DU-145, PC-3, and CDXR-3 cells. The expression levels of proteins associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition as well as focal adhesion kinase were affected by triol treatment in these cells. Triol treatment caused increased expression of E-cadherin protein levels but decreased expression of N-cadherin, vimentin, Slug, FAK, phospho-FAK Ser722, and phospho-FAK Tyr861 protein levels. Confocal laser microscopy revealed redistribution of β-actin and α-tubulin at the periphery of the CDXR-3 and DU-145 cells. Our observations suggest that triol may represent a promising therapeutic agent for advanced metastatic prostate cancer.

Kaplon J, Zheng L, Meissl K, et al.
A key role for mitochondrial gatekeeper pyruvate dehydrogenase in oncogene-induced senescence.
Nature. 2013; 498(7452):109-12 [PubMed] Related Publications
In response to tenacious stress signals, such as the unscheduled activation of oncogenes, cells can mobilize tumour suppressor networks to avert the hazard of malignant transformation. A large body of evidence indicates that oncogene-induced senescence (OIS) acts as such a break, withdrawing cells from the proliferative pool almost irreversibly, thus crafting a vital pathophysiological mechanism that protects against cancer. Despite the widespread contribution of OIS to the cessation of tumorigenic expansion in animal models and humans, we have only just begun to define the underlying mechanism and identify key players. Although deregulation of metabolism is intimately linked to the proliferative capacity of cells, and senescent cells are thought to remain metabolically active, little has been investigated in detail about the role of cellular metabolism in OIS. Here we show, by metabolic profiling and functional perturbations, that the mitochondrial gatekeeper pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) is a crucial mediator of senescence induced by BRAF(V600E), an oncogene commonly mutated in melanoma and other cancers. BRAF(V600E)-induced senescence was accompanied by simultaneous suppression of the PDH-inhibitory enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1 (PDK1) and induction of the PDH-activating enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase phosphatase 2 (PDP2). The resulting combined activation of PDH enhanced the use of pyruvate in the tricarboxylic acid cycle, causing increased respiration and redox stress. Abrogation of OIS, a rate-limiting step towards oncogenic transformation, coincided with reversion of these processes. Further supporting a crucial role of PDH in OIS, enforced normalization of either PDK1 or PDP2 expression levels inhibited PDH and abrogated OIS, thereby licensing BRAF(V600E)-driven melanoma development. Finally, depletion of PDK1 eradicated melanoma subpopulations resistant to targeted BRAF inhibition, and caused regression of established melanomas. These results reveal a mechanistic relationship between OIS and a key metabolic signalling axis, which may be exploited therapeutically.

Sommer EM, Dry H, Cross D, et al.
Elevated SGK1 predicts resistance of breast cancer cells to Akt inhibitors.
Biochem J. 2013; 452(3):499-508 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/07/2015 Related Publications
The majority of human cancers harbour mutations promoting activation of the Akt protein kinase, and Akt inhibitors are being evaluated in clinical trials. An important question concerns the understanding of the innate mechanisms that confer resistance of tumour cells to Akt inhibitors. SGK (serum- and glucocorticoid-regulated kinase) is closely related to Akt and controlled by identical upstream regulators {PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase), PDK1 (phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1) and mTORC2 [mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) complex 2]}. Mutations that trigger activation of Akt would also stimulate SGK. Moreover, Akt and SGK possess analogous substrate specificities and are likely to phosphorylate overlapping substrates to promote proliferation. To investigate whether cancers possessing high SGK activity could possess innate resistance to Akt-specific inhibitors (that do not target SGK), we analysed SGK levels and sensitivity of a panel of breast cancer cells towards two distinct Akt inhibitors currently in clinical trials (AZD5363 and MK-2206). This revealed a number of Akt-inhibitor-resistant lines displaying markedly elevated SGK1 that also exhibited significant phosphorylation of the SGK1 substrate NDRG1 [N-Myc (neuroblastoma-derived Myc) downstream-regulated gene 1]. In contrast, most Akt-inhibitor-sensitive cell lines displayed low/undetectable levels of SGK1. Intriguingly, despite low SGK1 levels, several Akt-inhibitor-sensitive cells showed marked NDRG1 phosphorylation that was, unlike in the resistant cells, suppressed by Akt inhibitors. SGK1 knockdown markedly reduced proliferation of Akt-inhibitor-resistant, but not -sensitive, cells. Furthermore, treatment of Akt-inhibitor-resistant cells with an mTOR inhibitor suppressed proliferation and led to inhibition of SGK1. The results of the present study suggest that monitoring SGK1 levels as well as responses of NDRG1 phosphorylation to Akt inhibitor administration could have a use in predicting the sensitivity of tumours to compounds that target Akt. Our findings highlight the therapeutic potential that SGK inhibitors or dual Akt/SGK inhibitors might have for treatment of cancers displaying elevated SGK activity.

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Cite this page: Cotterill SJ. PDK1, Cancer Genetics Web: http://www.cancer-genetics.org/PDK1.htm Accessed:

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