The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is dysregulated in diverse cancers and contributes to tumor progression and drug resistance. The first generation of mTOR inhibitors have failed to show clinical efficiency in treating pancreatic cancers due in part to the feedback relief of the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R)-AKT signaling pathway. The second generation of mTOR inhibitors, such as AZD8055, could inhibit AKT activation upon mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2) inhibition. However, whether this generation of mTOR inhibitors can obtain satisfactory activities in pancreatic cancer therapy remains unclear. In this study, we found AZD8055 did not show great improvement compared with everolimus, AZD8055 induced a temporal inhibition of AKT kinase activities and AKT was then rephosphorylated. Additionally, we found that AZD8055-induced transient AKT inhibition increased the expression and activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) by releasing its transcriptional factors Fork-head box O 1/3a (FoxO1/3a), which might contribute to cell resistance to AZD8055. The in vitro
and in vivo
experiments further indicated the combination of AZD8055 and erlotinib synergistically inhibited the mTORC1/C2 signaling pathway, EGFR/AKT feedback activation, and cell growth, as well as suppressed the progression of pancreatic cancer in a xenograft model. This study provides a rationale and strategy for overcoming AZD8055 resistance by a combined treatment with the EGFR inhibitor erlotinib in pancreatic cancer therapy.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited