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Brain Pathol. 2004 Oct;14(4):372-7.

Genetic alterations of phosphoinositide 3-kinase subunit genes in human glioblastomas.

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Molecular Neuro-Oncology Laboratory, Department of Pathology and Neurosurgical Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


Genetic alterations of PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase) subunits have been documented in a number of tumor types, with increased PI3K activity linked to gene amplification and mutation of catalytic subunits, as well as mutations of regulatory subunits. Among high grade gliomas, activation of the PI3K-AKT signaling pathway through loss of PTEN function is common. We therefore investigated whether genetic alteration of class IA PI3Ks might provide a mechanism for deregulation of this pathway in glioblastomas. We studied a series of glioblastomas with FISH to assess copy number of catalytic subunits (PIK3CA and PIK3CD) and with PCR-SSCP to screen for somatic mutations of conserved regions of both catalytic and regulatory subunits. FISH revealed frequent balanced copy number increases of both PIK3CA and PIK3CD, and one case showed an extra copy limited to PIK3CA. One glioblastoma exhibited a 9-bp deletion that encompassed the exon-intron junction of exon 12 of PIK3R1, documenting for the first time a mutation within a PI3K regulatory subunit in human glioblastoma. This deletion would be predicted to yield a truncated protein that lacks the inhibitory domain, resulting in increased PI3K activity. Furthermore, the case with selected PIK3CA copy number gain and the case with a truncating PIK3R1 mutation both featured AKT activation without PTEN mutation. These results suggest that genetic alterations of class IA PI3K subunit genes can occasionally play a role in human glioblastoma by activating the PI3K-AKT signaling pathway independently of PTEN mutation.

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