Background: Activation of signaling pathways, loss of tumor suppressors and oncogenic mutations often lead to dysregulation of glycolysis and tumorigenesis. We performed expression analysis on genetically-defined human isogenic breast cancer cell lines and with PI3K inhibitor exposure to determine impact on a patient-relevant Metastasis Score (MS) (proliferation index) and an assembled “glycolytic index”. A better understanding of the links between cellular metabolism and proliferation may yield insights into tumor cell biology and shed light on potential companion diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities.

Methods: A parental MCF10A and three isogenic cell lines harboring K-ras (G12V), PI3Kα (H1047R), and p53 null were grown overnight in the presence of high levels of growth factors in tissue culture flasks. The parental and PI3Kα cells were treated with 0.3 µM, 1 µM,3 µM GDC-0941 or DMSO. All cell lines were incubated for an additional 24 hr. RNA was extracted with RNeasy (Qiagen) and expression analysis performed by RT-PCR. A total of 28 genes were profiled that included 14 genes in a metastasis score (MS) (Tutt et al), 11 glycolysis-associated genes and 3 reference genes. Expression of each gene was calculated using the ΔΔCT method and “summed” with equal weighting to yield an MS and a “glycolytic index”.

Results: The MS and phenotypes for the four untreated cell lines were similar under the monolayer culture conditions used. The parental and PI3Kα cells had a similar “glycolytic index” while p53 null and K-ras cells had elevated indices. Treatment of the parental and PI3Kα with GDC-0941, a PI3K inhibitor, showed a dose-dependent decrease in the expression of constituent MS genes and the glycolytic genes as well as the combined scores. The correlation coefficient between MS and the glycolytic index was 0.77. The four genes in MS with the greatest dose-dependent decrease in expression (BUB1, CCNB1, MYBL2 and UBE2S) are associated with CDK1, a seminal participant in cell cycle regulation. The two genes from the “glycolytic index” with the greatest decrease, HK and PKM, are directly involved in glycolysis. The effect of GDC-0941, as reflected by MS and the “glycolytic index” was more pronounced in PI3Kα than the parental cells (p-value=0.0005).

Conclusion: The good correlation observed between the MS and “glycolytic index “in the treated cell lines supports an association between proliferation and metabolism upon restriction of cell signal transduction. The dose-dependent expression decreases in the two indices and their constituent genes, suggest that this PI3K inhibitor successfully perturbs both fundamental processes of the cell. Given the ultimate targeting of proliferation suppression, these scores may serve as useful tools in evaluating therapeutic agents, independent of the specific intended pathways. The similar proliferation levels observed in untreated MCF10A and three mutated cell lines suggest either that single oncogenic mutations are insufficient to affect MS or that the in vitro conditions are masking the metastatic/invasive phenotype. Studies are underway to evaluate cells grown in 3D Matrigel that more accurately mimic the tumor microenvironment.

Citation Information: Cancer Res 2010;70(24 Suppl):Abstract nr P2-09-19.