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PLoS One. 2010 Feb 19;5(2):e9305. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009305.

Exploring the gain of function contribution of AKT to mammary tumorigenesis in mouse models.

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  • 1Experimental Therapeutics Programme, Spanish National Cancer Research Centre, Madrid, Spain.


Elevated expression of AKT has been noted in a significant percentage of primary human breast cancers, mainly as a consequence of the PTEN/PI3K pathway deregulation. To investigate the mechanistic basis of the AKT gain of function-dependent mechanisms of breast tumorigenesis, we explored the phenotype induced by activated AKT transgenes in a quantitative manner. We generated several transgenic mice lines expressing different levels of constitutively active AKT in the mammary gland. We thoroughly analyzed the preneoplastic and neoplastic mammary lesions of these mice and correlated the process of tumorigenesis to AKT levels. Finally, we analyzed the impact that a possible senescent checkpoint might have in the tumor promotion inhibition observed, crossing these lines to mammary specific p53(R172H) mutant expression, and to p27 knock-out mice. We analyzed the benign, premalignant and malignant lesions extensively by pathology and at molecular level analysing the expression of proteins involved in the PI3K/AKT pathway and in cellular senescence. Our findings revealed an increased preneoplastic phenotype depending upon AKT signaling which was not altered by p27 or p53 loss. However, p53 inactivation by R172H point mutation combined with myrAKT transgenic expression significantly increased the percentage and size of mammary carcinoma observed, but was not sufficient to promote full penetrance of the tumorigenic phenotype. Molecular analysis suggest that tumors from double myrAKT;p53(R172H) mice result from acceleration of initiated p53(R172H) tumors and not from bypass of AKT-induced oncogenic senescence. Our work suggests that tumors are not the consequence of the bypass of senescence in MIN. We also show that AKT-induced oncogenic senescence is dependent of pRb but not of p53. Finally, our work also suggests that the cooperation observed between mutant p53 and activated AKT is due to AKT-induced acceleration of mutant p53-induced tumors. Finally, our work shows that levels of activated AKT are not essential in the induction of benign or premalignant tumors, or in the cooperation of AKT with other tumorigenic signal such as mutant p53, once AKT pathway is activated, the relative level of activity seems not to determine the phenotype.

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