Involvement of Akt and mTOR in chemotherapeutic- and hormonal-based drug resistance and response to radiation in breast cancer cells

Linda S Steelman, Patrick Navolanic, William H Chappell, Stephen L Abrams, Ellis W T Wong, Alberto M Martelli, Lucio Cocco, Franca Stivala, Massimo Libra, Ferdinando Nicoletti, Lyudmyla B Drobot, Richard A Franklin, James A McCubrey
Cell Cycle 2011 September 1, 10 (17): 3003-15
Elucidating the response of breast cancer cells to chemotherapeutic and hormonal based drugs and radiation is clearly important as these are common treatment approaches. Signaling cascades often involved in chemo-, hormonal- and radiation resistance are the Ras/PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR, Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and p53 pathways. In the following studies we have examined the effects of activation of the Ras/PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR cascade in the response of MCF-7 breast cancer cells to chemotherapeutic- and hormonal-based drugs and radiation. Activation of Akt by introduction of conditionally-activated Akt-1 gene could result in resistance to chemotherapeutic and hormonal based drugs as well as radiation. We have determined that chemotherapeutic drugs such as doxorubicin or the hormone based drug tamoxifen, both used to treat breast cancer, resulted in the activation of the Raf/MEK/ERK pathway which is often associated with a pro-proliferative, anti-apoptotic response. In drug sensitive MCF-7 cells which have wild-type p53; ERK, p53 and downstream p21 (Cip-1 ) were induced upon exposure to doxorubicin. In contrast, in the drug resistant cells which expressed activated Akt-1, much lower levels of p53 and p21 (Cip1) were induced upon exposure to doxorubicin. These results indicate the involvement of the Ras/PI3K/PTEN/Akt/mTOR, Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK and p53 pathways in the response to chemotherapeutic and hormonal based drugs. Understanding how breast cancers respond to chemo- and hormonal-based therapies and radiation may enhance the ability to treat breast cancer more effectively.

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