Should individual PI3 kinase isoforms be targeted in cancer?

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2009 Apr;21(2):199-208. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Feb 4.


Activation of the phosphoinositide-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathway is frequently found in common human cancers, brought about by oncogenic receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) acting upstream, PTEN loss, or activating mutations of PI3K itself. Recent studies have delineated distinct but overlapping functions in cell signaling and tumorigenesis for p110alpha and p110beta, the two major catalytic subunits of PI3K expressed in the tissues of origin for the common tumor types. In most cell types studied, p110alpha carries the majority of the PI3K signal in classic RTK signal transduction, while p110beta responds to GPCRs. Both p110alpha and p110beta function in cellular transformation induced by alterations in components of PI3K pathway. Specifically, p110alpha is essential for the signaling and growth of tumors driven by PIK3CA mutations and/or oncogenic RTKs/Ras, whereas p110beta is the major isoform in mediating PTEN-deficient tumorigenesis. While pan-PI3K inhibitors are currently being tested in the clinic, p110 isoform-specific inhibition holds promise as a therapeutic strategy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms* / enzymology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / genetics
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • ras Proteins / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Isoenzymes
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human
  • ras Proteins