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Chiarini F.,University of Bologna | Grimaldi C.,University of Bologna | Ricci F.,Immunohaematology and Transfusion Center | Tazzari P.L.,Immunohaematology and Transfusion Center | And 11 more authors.
Cancer Research | Year: 2010

Recent findings have highlighted that constitutively active phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling is a common feature of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), where it upregulates cell proliferation, survival, and drug resistance. These observations lend compelling weight to the application of PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibitors in the therapy of T-ALL. Here, we have analyzed the therapeutic potential of the novel dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor NVP-BEZ235, an orally bioavailable imidazoquinoline derivative, which has entered clinical trials for solid tumors, on both T-ALL cell lines and patient samples. NVP-BEZ235 was cytotoxic to a panel of T-ALL cell lines as determined by MTT assays. NVP-BEZ235 treatment resulted in cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Western blots showed a dose- and time-dependent dephosphorylation of Akt and mTORC1 downstream targets in response to NVP-BEZ235. Remarkably, NVP-BEZ235 targeted the side population of both T-ALL cell lines and patient lymphoblasts, which might correspond to leukemia-initiating cells, and synergized with chemotherapeutic agents (cyclophosphamide, cytarabine, dexamethasone) currently used for treating T-ALL patients. NVP-BEZ235 reduced chemoresistance to vincristine induced in Jurkat cells by coculturing with MS-5 stromal cells, which mimic the bone marrow microenvironment. NVP-BEZ235 was cytotoxic to T-ALL patient lymphoblasts displaying pathway activation, where the drug dephosphorylated eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1, at variance with rapamycin. Taken together, our findings indicate that longitudinal inhibition at two nodes of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR network with NVP-BEZ235, either alone or in combination with chemotherapeutic drugs, may be an efficient treatment of those T-ALLs that have aberrant upregulation of this signaling pathway for their proliferation and survival. ©2010 AACR.

Martelli A.M.,University of Bologna | Martelli A.M.,CNR Institute of Molecular Genetics | Evangelisti C.,University of Bologna | Chiarini F.,University of Bologna | And 4 more authors.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research | Year: 2010

The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway mediates diverse and important physiological cell functions which include proliferation, differentiation, survival, motility, autophagy, and metabolism. However, dysregulated PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling has been documented in a wide range of neoplasias, including malignant hematological disorders. It is now emerging that this signaling network plays a key role during normal hematopoiesis, a tightly regulated process resulting in the formation of all blood lineages. Blood cell development encompasses a complex series of events which are mainly regulated by actions of cytokines, a family of extracellular ligands which stimulate many biological responses in a wide array of cell types. Hematopoiesis is strictly dependent on the correct function of the bone marrow microenvironment (BMM), as BMM cells secrete most of the cytokines. Several of these cytokines activate the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling network and regulate proliferation, survival, and differentiation events during hematopoiesis. Here, we review the evidence that links the signals emanating from the PI3K/Akt/mTOR cascade with the functions of hematopoietic stem cells and the process of myelopoiesis, including lineage commitment. We then highlight the emerging role played by aberrant PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling during leukemogenesis. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Martelli A.M.,University of Bologna | Lonetti A.,University of Bologna | Buontempo F.,University of Bologna | Ricci F.,Immunohematology and Transfusion Center | And 8 more authors.
Advances in Biological Regulation | Year: 2014

Leukemia initiating cells (LICs) represent a reservoir that is believed to drive relapse and resistance to chemotherapy in blood malignant disorders. T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive neoplastic disorder of immature hematopoietic precursors committed to the T-cell lineage. T-ALL comprises about 15% of pediatric and 25% of adult ALL cases and is prone to early relapse. Although the prognosis of T-ALL has improved especially in children due to the use of new intensified treatment protocols, the outcome of relapsed T-ALL cases is still poor. Putative LICs have been identified also in T-ALL. LICs are mostly quiescent and for this reason highly resistant to chemotherapy. Therefore, they evade treatment and give rise to disease relapse. At present great interest surrounds the development of targeted therapies against signaling networks aberrantly activated in LICs and important for their survival and drug-resistance. Both the Notch1 pathway and the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) network are involved in T-ALL LIC survival and drug-resistance and could be targeted by small molecules. Thus, Notch1 and PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibitors are currently being developed for clinical use either as single agents or in combination with conventional chemotherapy for T-ALL patient treatment. In this review, we summarize the existing knowledge of the relevance of Notch1 and PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling in T-ALL LICs and we examine the rationale for targeting these key signal transduction networks by means of selective pharmacological inhibitors. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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