Phosphoinositide-3 kinases (PI3Ks) are key cellular signaling proteins that act as a central node for relaying signals from cell surface receptors to downstream mediators, such as AKT. The PI3K-δ and PI3K-γ isoforms are preferentially expressed in normal and malignant leukocytes where they play critical roles in cell differentiation, migration, and proliferation. Constitutive activity of the PI3K pathway is common in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) and frequently involves the deletion of PTEN, the phosphatase that negatively regulates the PI3K pathway. An important role for the PI3K-δ and PI3K-γ isoforms has been demonstrated in the Pten-deleted genetically engineered murine model of T-ALL in conjunction with PI3K-δ and/or PI3K-γ gene knock outs (Subramanian et al, Cancer Cell, 2012). IPI-145 is a potent inhibitor of PI3K-δ and PI3K-γ currently being studied in a Phase 1 trial (IPI-145-02) in patients with advanced hematologic malignancies, including T-ALL (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01476657). We performed in vitro studies to address the sensitivity of human and murine T-ALL cell lines to IPI-145 and to additional PI3K inhibitors with defined isoform selectivity. The human T-ALL cells examined were from cell lines that lack PTEN protein expression (Loucy, MOLT-4, CCRF-CEM, CEM/C2, p12 Ichikawa, and Karpas-45) and cell lines that express PTEN protein (MOLT13 and MOLT16). In addition, two murine cell lines derived from a Pten-deleted model of T-ALL (LPN049 and LPN236) were studied.

The expression levels of class I PI3K isoforms were determined by western blotting and quantitative RT-PCR, which revealed varying levels of protein and RNA expression across the cell lines. In vitro treatment of human T-ALL cells with IPI-145 resulted in variable degrees of growth inhibition, with the PTEN-deficient Loucy cell line demonstrating the greatest sensitivity with an IC50 of 245 nM. In the cell lines tested, growth inhibition to IPI-145 was only seen in PTEN-deficient human cell lines, whereas all PTEN-expressing human T-ALL cell lines were resistant to IPI-145 (IC50 > 10 uM). However, not all PTEN-deficient human T-ALL cells demonstrated sensitivity to IPI-145 (e.g., CEM/C2), indicating that loss of PTEN does not confer sensitivity to PI3K inhibition in all settings. Inhibition of phospho-AKT (pAKT) correlated with growth inhibition, with an IC50 of 286 nM in the Loucy cell line. Studies to evaluate the mechanism of growth inhibition revealed that IPI-145 treatment resulted in apoptosis of sensitive cells as measured by 7-AAD and Annexin V staining. Cell lines derived from the Pten-deleted murine T-ALL model were also sensitive to IPI-145 with IC50s in the 300-600 nM range as measured by MTT assay. In addition, IPI-145 led to apoptosis, as measured by cleaved Caspase 3 and 7-AAD/Annexin V. Interestingly, Pten-deleted murine T-ALL cell lines showed down-regulation of pAKT and c-MYC expression with IPI-145 in a dose responsive manner that corresponded with increasing activated Caspase-3 expression. In NOTCH1-expressing murine T-ALL cell lines, down regulation of NOTCH1 and activated NOTCH1 was also observed in parallel with c-MYC down-regulation. To explore further the individual contributions of the varying PI3K isoforms on T-ALL cell growth, the effect of IPI-145 on tumor cell growth was compared with PI3K-δ, PI3K-δ,γ, and PI3K-β selective compounds in the Loucy PTEN-deficient T-ALL cell line. These experiments support an anti-leukemic effect for both PI3K-δ and PI3K-γ inhibition and indicate that the greatest effect is seen with combined PI3K-δ and PI3K-γ inhibition. A role for PI3K-β in T-ALL cell survival was not observed. Evaluation of the in vivo activity of IPI-145 on Loucy xenografts, as well as PTEN-expressing MOLT-13 xenografts, is ongoing. Together, these data provide a strong rationale for combined targeted inhibition of PI3K-δ and PI3K-γ in T-ALL.


Huang:Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Research Funding. Proctor:Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Employment. Yang:Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Research Funding. Gao:Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Research Funding. Zhang:Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Research Funding. Huang:Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Research Funding. Changelian:Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Employment. Kutok:Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Employment. McGovern:Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Employment. You:Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Research Funding.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.