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Feb 2020 ACS pharmacology & translational science

Targeting Functional Activity of AKT Has Efficacy against Aggressive Neuroblastoma.


Le Grand M, Kimpton K, Gana CC, Valli E, Fletcher JI, Kavallaris M


-amplified neuroblastoma is one of the deadliest forms of childhood cancer and remains a significant clinical challenge. Direct pharmacological inhibition of MYCN is not currently achievable. One strategy could be to target the AKT/GSK3β pathway, which directly regulates the stability of the MYCN protein. Numerous potent and isoform-specific small-molecule AKT inhibitors have been developed. However, the selection of the right drug combinations in the relevant indication will have a significant impact on AKT inhibitor clinical success. To maximally exploit the potential of AKT inhibitors, a better understanding of AKT isoform functions in cancer is crucial. Here using RNAi to downregulate specific AKT isoforms, we demonstrated that loss of total AKT activity rather than isoform-specific expression was necessary to decrease MYCN expression and cause a significant decrease in neuroblastoma cell proliferation. Consistent with these observations, isoform-specific pharmacological inhibition of AKT was substantially less effective than pan-AKT inhibition in combination with cytotoxic drugs in -amplified neuroblastoma. The allosteric pan-AKT inhibitor perifosine had promising and activity in combination with conventional cytotoxic drugs in -amplified neuroblastoma cells. Our results demonstrated that perifosine drug combination was able to induce apoptosis and downregulate ABC transporter expression. Collectively, this study shows that selecting pan-AKT inhibitors rather than isoform-specific drugs to synergize with first-line chemotherapy treatment should be considered for clinical trials for aggressive neuroblastoma and, potentially, other MYCN -driven cancers.

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