The serine/threonine kinase Akt plays a critical signaling role downstream of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) and is important in promoting cell survival and inhibiting apoptosis. Indeed, Akt activation and overexpression is often associated with resistance to chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Previous studies demonstrated the potential therapeutic value of targeting the PI3K pathway in lymphoma, as both the selective PI3Kδ inhibitor CAL-101, and everolimus and temsirolimus, which target PI3K and mTOR, produce clinical responses in a variety of lymphomas. We evaluated the effect of the novel allosteric Akt inhibitor, MK-2206, in a panel of lymphoma cell lines and primary lymphoma cells. We found that Akt, and activated pAkt, are highly expressed in lymphoma cells. After 72 hours of incubation, the Akt inhibitor MK-2206 demonstrated antiproliferative activity in a variety of lymphoma cell lines, with an IC50 ranging between 0.1 and 5μM. There was no correlation between pre-treatment levels of pAKT, PI3K isoforms, or PTEN protein expression and sensitivity to MK-2206. Within the diffuse large B cell lymphoma cell lines, those of GCB cell of origin were more sensitive to MK-2206, compared with the ABC-derived cell lines. Resistant cell lines tended to had weak or absent expression of p-GSK3 and p-4EBPI. Mechanistically, MK-2206 treatment decreased the level of p-Akt (Ser473), and p-Akt (Thr308), irrespective of drug sensitivity. Furthermore, MK-2206 decreased the phosphorylation level of Akt downstream targets, including p-GSK3 beta and p-PRAS40, upregulated p27. and dephosphorylated p70S6K. Moreover, MK-2206 treatment decreased HIF-1 alpha and VEGF expression. Depending on the cell of origin, the antiproliferative effect resulted from cycle arrest at the G0/G1 phase, autophagy, orapoptosis. MK-2206 showed synergistic effect in combination with the HDAC inhibitor, Vorinostat. Using pathway-specific protein arrays focusing on apoptosis, kinases, and transcription factors, the combination of MK-2206 and Vorinostat effectively altered p53 and p27 levels, which were associated with increased PARP cleavage and induction of apoptosis. Our data demonstrate that AKT is a promising target for the treatment of lymphoma, and provide a rationale for an ongoing trial, evaluating MK-2206 for the treatment of patients with relapsed lymphoma.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.