Association of increased phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling with increased invasiveness and gelatinase activity in malignant gliomas

J Neurosurg. 2001 Sep;95(3):480-8. doi: 10.3171/jns.2001.95.3.0480.


Object: Glioblastoma multiforme is the most malignant of the primary brain tumors and aggressively infiltrates surrounding brain tissue, resulting in distant foci within the central nervous system, thereby rendering this tumor surgically incurable. The recent findings that both phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-K) and the phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) regulate tumor cell invasiveness have led the authors to surmise that these lipid signaling molecules might play a role in regulating matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which are essential for tumor cell invasion.

Methods: Using the C6 glioma cell line, which does not express measurable amounts of PTEN protein and in which in vitro invasiveness is MMP dependent, the authors determined that in vitro glioma cell invasiveness was significantly reduced when cells were preincubated overnight with LY294002 or wortmannin, two specific inhibitors of PI 3-K signaling. Next, using gelatin zymography, it was noted that these compounds significantly inhibited MMP-2 and MMP-9 activities. Moreover, the decrease in MMP activity correlated with the decrease in PI 3-K activity, as assessed by Akt phosphorylation. Finally, using semiquantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, the authors demonstrated that LY294002 decreased messenger (m)RNA levels for both MMPs. Thus, these in vitro data indicate that PI 3-K signaling modulates gelatinase activity at the level of mRNA. Using immunostaining of phosphorylated Akt (p-Akt) as a measure of PI 3-K activity, the authors next assessed rat brains implanted with C6 cells. Compared with surrounding brain, there was marked p-Akt staining in C6 glioma cells and in neurons immediately adjacent to the tumor, but not in normal brain. The p-Akt staining in tumors was especially intense in perivascular areas. Using double-labeling techniques, colocalization of p-Akt with MMP-2 and MMP-9 was also noted in perivascular tumor areas.

Conclusions: The increase in p-Akt staining within these PTEN-deficient gliomas is consistent with what would be predicted from unchecked PI 3-K signaling. Furthermore, the immunohistochemically detected colocalization of p-Akt and MMP-2 and MMP-9 supports the authors' in vitro studies and the proposed linkage between PI 3-K signaling and MMP activity in gliomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Gelatinases / genetics
  • Gelatinases / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Glioma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2 / metabolism
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Gelatinases
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9