PKI-587 and sorafenib targeting PI3K/AKT/mTOR and Ras/Raf/MAPK pathways synergistically inhibit HCC cell proliferation

Roberto Gedaly, Paul Angulo, Jonathan Hundley, Michael F Daily, Changguo Chen, B Mark Evers
Journal of Surgical Research 2012, 176 (2): 542-8

BACKGROUND: Deregulated Ras/Raf/MAPK and PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathways are found in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This study aimed to test the inhibitory effects of PKI-587 and sorafenib as single agents or in combination on HCC (Huh7 cell line) proliferation.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: (3)H-thymidine incorporation and MTT assay were used to assess Huh7 cell proliferation. Phosphorylation of the key enzymes in the Ras/Raf/MAPK and PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathways was detected by Western blot.

RESULTS: We found that PKI-587 is a more potent PI3K/mTOR inhibitor than PI-103. Combination of PKI-587 and sorafenib was a more effective inhibitor of Huh7 proliferation than the combination of PI-103 and sorafenib. Combination of PKI-587 and sorafenib synergistically inhibited epidermal growth factor (EGF)-stimulated Huh7 proliferation compared with monodrug therapy. EGF increased phosphorylation of Ras/Raf downstream signaling proteins MEK and ERK; EGF-stimulated activation was inhibited by sorafenib. However, sorafenib, as a single agent, increased AKT (Ser473) phosphorylation. EGF-stimulated AKT (ser473) activation was inhibited by PKI-587. PKI-587 is a potent inhibitor of AKT (Ser473), mTOR (Ser2448), and S6K (Thr389) phosphorylation; in contrast, rapamycin stimulated mTOR complex 2 substrate AKT(Ser473) phosphorylation although it inhibited mTOR complex 1 substrate S6K phosphorylation. PKI-587, as a single agent, stimulated MEK and ERK phosphorylation. However, when PKI-587 and sorafenib were used in combination, they inhibited all the tested kinases in the Ras/Raf /MAPK and PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathways.

CONCLUSION: The combination of PKI-587 and sorafenib has the advantage over monodrug therapy on inhibition of HCC cell proliferation by blocking both PI3K/AKT/mTOR and Ras/Raf/MAPK signaling pathways.

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