PTEN-deficient cancers depend on PIK3CB

Susan Wee, Dmitri Wiederschain, Sauveur Michel Maira, Alice Loo, Christine Miller, Rosalie DeBeaumont, Frank Stegmeier, Yung Mae Yao, Christoph Lengauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

390 Scopus citations


Deregulation of the PI3K signaling pathway is observed in many human cancers and occurs most frequently through loss of PTEN phosphatase tumor suppressor function or through somatic activating mutations in the Class IA PI3K, PIK3CA. Tumors harboring activated p110α, the protein product of PIK3CA, require p110α activity for growth and survival and hence are expected to be responsive to inhibitors of its lipid kinase activity. Whether PTEN-deficient cancers similarly depend on p110α activity to sustain activation of the PI3K pathway has been unclear. In this study, we used a single-vector lentiviral inducible shRNA system to selectively inactivate the three Class IA PI3Ks, PIK3CA, PIK3CB, and PIK3CD, to determine which PI3K isoforms are responsible for driving the abnormal proliferation of PTEN-deficient cancers. Down-regulation of PIK3CA in colorectal cancer cells harboring mutations in PIK3CA inhibited downstream PI3K signaling and cell growth. Surprisingly, PIK3CA depletion affected neither PI3K signaling nor cell growth in 3 PTEN-deficient cancer cell lines. In contrast, down-regulation of the PIK3CB isoform, which encodes p110β, resulted in pathway inactivation and subsequent inhibition of growth in both cell-based and in vivo settings. This essential function of PIK3CB in PTEN-deficient cancer cells required its lipid kinase activity. Our findings demonstrate that although p110α activation is required to sustain the proliferation of established PIK3CA-mutant tumors, PTEN-deficient tumors are dependent instead on p110β signaling. This unexpected finding demonstrates the need to tailor therapeutic approaches to the genetic basis of PI3K pathway activation to achieve optimal treatment response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13057-13062
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 2 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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