Aberrant AKT (protein kinase B) signaling is common in many cancers, including glioblastoma. Current models suggest that AKT acts directly, or indirectly via the TSC complex, to activate the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) as the main downstream mediator of AKT signaling. mTOR activation results in subsequent activation of S6K and STAT3, as well as suppression (i.e., phosphorylation) of 4E-BP1, leading to cell cycle progression and inhibition of apoptosis. Most studies of this pathway have used in vitro systems or tumor lysate-based approaches. We aimed to delineate these pathways in a primarily in situ manner using immunohistochemistry in a panel of 29 glioblastomas, emphasizing the histologie distribution of molecular changes. Within individual tumors, increased expression levels of p-TSC2, p-mTOR, P-4E-BP1, p-S6K, p-S6, and p-STAT3 were found in regions defined by elevated AKT activation. However, only TSC2, S6K, and S6 activation levels correlated significantly with AKT activation and clustered together in multidimensional scaling analyses. Ki-67 proliferation indices were significantly elevated in p-AKT-overexpressing regions, whereas expression of the apoptosis marker cleaved caspase 3 was generally low and not significantly different between the regions. These findings provide the first in vivo evidence for a close correlation between AKT and TSC2 phosphorylation levels in glioblastoma. Moreover, they suggest that downstream p-AKT effects are primarily mediated by S6 kinase signaling, thus enhancing proliferation rather than inhibiting apoptosis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research