The PI3K/Akt and mTOR/P70S6K signaling pathways in human uveal melanoma cells: interaction with B-Raf/ERK

Narjes Babchia, Armelle Calipel, Frédéric Mouriaux, Anne-Marie Faussat, Frédéric Mascarelli
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 2010, 51 (1): 421-9

PURPOSE: Activated B-Raf alone cannot induce melanoma but must cooperate with other signaling pathways. The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)/p70S6K pathways are critical for tumorigenesis. The authors investigated the role of these pathways in uveal melanoma cells.

METHODS: The effects of PI3K and mTOR activation and inhibition on the proliferation of human uveal melanoma cell lines expressing either activated (WT)B-Raf or (V600E)B-Raf were investigated. Interactions among PI3K, mTOR, and B-Raf/ERK were studied.

RESULTS: Inhibition of PI3K deactivated P70S6 kinase, reduced cell proliferation by 71% to 84%, and increased apoptosis by a factor of 5.0 to 8.4 without reducing ERK1/2 activation, indicating that ERK plays no role in mediating PI3K in these processes. In contrast, rapamycin-induced inhibition of mTOR did not significantly affect cell proliferation because it simultaneously stimulated PI3K/Akt activation and cyclin D1 expression. Regardless of B-Raf mutation status, cotreatment with the PI3K inhibitor effectively sensitized all melanoma cell lines to the B-Raf or ERK1/2 inhibition-induced reduction of cell proliferation. B-Raf/ERK and PI3K signaling, but not mTOR signaling, converged to control cyclin D1 expression. Moreover, p70S6K required the activation of ERK1/2. These data demonstrate that PI3K/Akt and mTOR/P70S6K interact with B-Raf/ERK.

CONCLUSIONS: Activated PI3K/Akt attenuates the inhibitory effects of rapamycin on cell proliferation and thus serves as a negative feedback mechanism. This finding suggests that rapamycin is unlikely to inhibit uveal melanoma growth. In contrast, targeting PI3K while inhibiting B-Raf/ERK may be a promising approach to reduce the proliferation of uveal melanoma cells.

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