AKT1 restricts the invasive capacity of head and neck carcinoma cells harboring a constitutively active PI3 kinase activity

Abstract : Background: In mammals, the AKT/PKB protein kinase family comprises three members (AKT1–3). PI3-Kinase (PI3K), a key oncogene involved in a wide variety of cancers, drives AKT activity. Constitutive activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway has been associated with tumorigenic properties including uncontrolled cell proliferation and survival, angiogenesis, promotion of cellular motility, invasiveness and metastasis. However, AKT1 activity has also been recently shown to repress the invasive properties of breast cancer cells in specific contexts. Methods: This study used both pharmacological and shRNA approaches to inhibit AKT function, microscopy to characterize the cellular morphology, 3D spheroid models to assess migratory and invasive cellular capacities and a phenotypic screening approach based on electrical properties of the cells. Results: Here we demonstrate that the alternative action of AKT1 on invasive properties of breast cancers can be extended to head and neck carcinomas, which exhibit constitutive activation of the PI3K/AKT pathway. Indeed, inhibition of AKT1 function by shRNA or a specific pharmacological inhibitor resulted in cellular spreading and an invasive phenotype. A phenotypic screening approach based on cellular electrical properties corroborated microscopic observations and provides a foundation for future high-throughput screening studies. This technique further showed that the inhibition of AKT1 signaling is phenocopied by blocking the mTORC1 pathway with rapamycin. Conclusion: Our study suggests that the repressive action of PI3K/AKT1 on cellular invasive properties may be a mechanism common to several cancers. Current and future studies involving AKT inhibitors must therefore consider this property to prevent metastases and consequently to improve survival.
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Sanja Brolih, Scott Parks, Valérie Vial, Jérome Durivault, Livio Mostosi, et al.. AKT1 restricts the invasive capacity of head and neck carcinoma cells harboring a constitutively active PI3 kinase activity. BMC Cancer, BioMed Central, 2018, 18 (1), pp.249. ⟨10.1186/s12885-018-4169-0⟩. ⟨inserm-01857833⟩

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