Therapeutic sensitivity to Rac GTPase inhibition requires consequential suppression of mTORC1, AKT, and MEK signaling in breast cancer

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Abstract

Rac GTPases have oncogenic roles in cell growth, survival, and migration. We tested response to the Rac inhibitor EHT1864 in a panel of breast cancer cell lines. EHT1864-induced growth inhibition was associated with dual inhibition of the PI3K/AKT/mTORC1 and MEK/ERK pathways. Breast cancer cells harboring PIK3CA mutations or HER2 overexpression were most sensitive to Rac inhibition, suggesting that such oncogenic alterations link Rac activation with PI3K/AKT/mTORC1 and MEK/ERK signaling. Interestingly, EHT1864 decreased activation of the mTORC1 substrate p70S6K earlier than AKT inhibition, suggesting that Rac may activate mTORC1/p70S6K independently of AKT. Comparison of the growth-inhibitory profile of EHT1864 to 137 other anti-cancer drugs across 656 cancer cell lines revealed significant correlation with the p70S6K inhibitor PF-4708671. We confirmed that Rac complexes contain MEK1/2 and ERK1/2, but also contain p70S6K; these interactions were disrupted by EHT1864. Pharmacokinetic profiles revealed that EHT1864 was present in mouse plasma at concentrations effective in vitro for approximately 1 h after intraperitoneal administration. EHT1864 suppressed growth of HER2+ tumors, and enhanced response to anti-estrogen treatment in ER+ tumors. Further therapeutic development of Rac inhibitors for HER2+ and PIK3CA-mutant cancers is warranted.

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Hampsch, R. A., Shee, K., Bates, D., Lewis, L. D., Désiré, L., Leblond, B., … Miller, T. W. (2017). Therapeutic sensitivity to Rac GTPase inhibition requires consequential suppression of mTORC1, AKT, and MEK signaling in breast cancer. Oncotarget, 8(13), 21806–21817. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15586

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