PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway in cancer stem cells: from basic research to clinical application

Am J Cancer Res. 2015 Apr 15;5(5):1602-9. eCollection 2015.


Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a subpopulation of tumor cells that possess unique self-renewal activity and mediate tumor initiation and propagation. The PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway can be considered as a master regulator for cancer. More and more recent studies have shown the links between PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway and CSC biology. Herein, we provide a comprehensive review on the role of signaling components upstream and downstream of PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling in CSC. In addition, we also summarize various classes of small molecule inhibitors of PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway and their clinical potential in CSC. Overall, the current available data suggest that the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway could be a promising target for development of CSC-target drugs.

Keywords: Cancer stem cells; PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway; rapamycin; self-renew; tumor initiation.

Publication types

  • Review