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Identification of differential PI3K pathway target dependencies in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia through a large cancer cell panel screen

March 10, 2016

Selective phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT/mTOR inhibitors are currently under evaluation in clinical studies. To identify tumor types that are sensitive to PI3K pathway inhibitors we screened compounds targeting PI3Kα/δ (AZD8835), PI3Kβ/δ (AZD8186), AKT (AZD5363) and mTORC1/2 (AZD2014) against a cancer cell line panel (971 cell lines). There was an enrichment of hematological malignancies that were sensitive to AKT and mTOR inhibition, with the greatest degree of sensitivity observed in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). We found that all NOTCH mutant T-ALL cell lines were sensitive to AKT and mTORC1/2 inhibitors, with only partial sensitivity to agents that target the PI3K α, β or δ isoforms. Induction of apoptosis only occurred following AKTi treatment in cell lines with PTEN protein loss and high levels of active AKT. In summary, we have demonstrated that T-ALL cell lines show differential sensitivity to inhibition at different nodes in the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway and inhibiting AKT or mTOR may have a therapeutic benefit in this disease setting.