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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2014 Apr;144(2):287-298. doi: 10.1007/s10549-014-2877-y. Epub 2014 Feb 22.

mTORC1/C2 and pan-HDAC inhibitors synergistically impair breast cancer growth by convergent AKT and polysome inhibiting mechanisms.

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Buck Institute for Research on Aging, 8001 Redwood Boulevard, Novato, CA 94945, USA.
Buck Institute for Research on Aging, 8001 Redwood Boulevard, Novato, CA 94945, USA; Master of Science in Biology Program, Dominican University, San Rafael, CA, USA.
Buck Institute for Research on Aging, 8001 Redwood Boulevard, Novato, CA 94945, USA,
Contributed equally


Resistance of breast cancers to targeted hormone receptor (HR) or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) inhibitors often occurs through dysregulation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase, protein kinase B/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (PI3K/AKT/mTOR) pathway. Presently, no targeted therapies exist for breast cancers lacking HR and HER2 overexpression, many of which also exhibit PI3K/AKT/mTOR hyper-activation. Resistance of breast cancers to current therapeutics also results, in part, from aberrant epigenetic modifications including protein acetylation regulated by histone deacetylases (HDACs). We show that the investigational drug MLN0128, which inhibits both complexes of mTOR (mTORC1 and mTORC2), and the hydroxamic acid pan-HDAC inhibitor TSA synergistically inhibit the viability of a phenotypically diverse panel of five breast cancer cell lines (HR-/+, HER2-/+). The combination of MLN0128 and TSA induces apoptosis in most breast cancer cell lines tested, but not in the non-malignant MCF-10A mammary epithelial cells. In parallel, the MLN0128/TSA combination reduces phosphorylation of AKT at S473 more than single agents alone and more so in the 5 malignant breast cancer cell lines than in the non-malignant mammary epithelial cells. Examining polysome profiles from one of the most sensitive breast cancer cell lines (SKBR3), we demonstrate that this MLN0128/TSA treatment combination synergistically impairs polysome assembly in conjunction with enhanced inhibition of 4eBP1 phosphorylation at S65. Taken together, these data indicate that the synergistic growth inhibiting consequence of combining a mTORC1/C2 inhibitor like MLN0128 with a pan-HDAC inhibitor like TSA results from their mechanistic convergence onto the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, profoundly inhibiting both AKT S473 and 4eBP1 S65 phosphorylation, reducing polysome formation and cancer cell viability.

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