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Loss or mutation of the PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10) gene is associated with resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors. However, the mechanism underlying remains elusive. In this study, we aimed to explore whether sensitivity to the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) is affected by PTEN status in endometrial cancer cells. PTEN siRNA and the PTEN gene were transfected into HEC-1A and Ishikawa endometrial cancer cells using lentiviral vectors. Cells were treated under various concentrations of RG14620 and rapamycin, which are EGFR and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors, respectively. The IC(50) of RG16420 was determined by using the MTT method. Cell apoptosis and the cell cycle were studied, and activation of EGFR, AKT, and p70S6 were detected by Western blot analysis. Loss of PTEN promoted cell proliferation and led to significant increases in the levels of EGFR, phospho-EGFR, AKT, phospho-AKT, and phospho-mTOR proteins. Ishikawa and HEC-1A(PTENkd) cells that displayed loss and inactivation of PTEN function were resistant to RG14620. HEC-1A and Ishikawa(PTEN) cells with intact PTEN were sensitive to RG14620. The combination of two inhibitors was more effective than both monotherapies, particularly in carcinoma cells with PTEN dysfunction. Decreased phospho-EGFR protein expression was observed in all cell lines that were sensitive to RG14620. Decreased phospho-AKT and phospho-p70S6 protein expression was observed in PTEN-intact cells that were sensitive to RG14620. PTEN loss results in resistance to EGFR TKI, which was reversed by PTEN reintroduction or mTOR inhibitor treatment. The combined treatment of EGFR TKI and the mTOR inhibitor provided a synergistic effect by promoting cell death in PTEN-deficient and PTEN-intact endometrial cancer cells, particularly in PTEN-deficient carcinoma cells with up-regulated EGFR activation.


Tian Li, Yuebo Yang, Xiaomao Li, Chengfang Xu, Lirong Meng. EGFR- and AKT-mediated reduction in PTEN expression contributes to tyrphostin resistance and is reversed by mTOR inhibition in endometrial cancer cells. Molecular and cellular biochemistry. 2012 Feb;361(1-2):19-29

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PMID: 21952748

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