PI3K pathway activation is frequently observed in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). However, single agent PI3K inhibitors have shown limited anti-tumor activity. To investigate biomarkers of response and resistance mechanisms, we tested 17 TNBC patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models representing diverse genomic backgrounds and varying degrees of PI3K pathway signaling activities for their tumor growth response to the pan-PI3K inhibitor, BKM120. Baseline and post-treatment PDX tumors were subjected to reverse phase protein array (RPPA) to identify protein markers associated with tumor growth response. While BKM120 consistently reduced PI3K pathway activity, as demonstrated by reduced levels of phosphorylated AKT, percentage tumor growth inhibition (%TGI) ranged from 35% in the least sensitive to 84% in the most sensitive model. Several biomarkers showed significant association with resistance, including elevated baseline levels of growth factor receptors (EGFR, pHER3 Y1197), PI3Kp85 regulatory subunit, anti-apoptotic protein BclXL, EMT (Vimentin, MMP9, IntegrinaV), NFKB pathway (IkappaB, RANKL), and intracellular signaling molecules including Caveolin, CBP, and KLF4, as well as treatment-induced increases in the levels of phosphorylated forms of Aurora kinases. Interestingly, increased AKT phosphorylation or PTEN loss at baseline were not significantly correlated to %TGI. These results provide important insights into biomarker development for PI3K inhibitors in TNBC.
Keywords: BKM120; PI3K inhibitor; biomarkers; patient-derived xenograft; triple negative breast cancer.