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Angiogenesis. 2015 Apr;18(2):151-62. doi: 10.1007/s10456-014-9453-2. Epub 2014 Nov 26.

AKT hyper-phosphorylation associated with PI3K mutations in lymphatic endothelial cells from a patient with lymphatic malformation.

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Vascular Biology Program and Department of Surgery, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.


Lymphatic malformations (LM) are characterized by abnormal formation of lymphatic vessels and tissue overgrowth. The lymphatic vessels present in LM lesions may become blocked and enlarged as lymphatic fluid collects, forming a mass or cyst. Lesions are typically diagnosed during childhood and are often disfiguring and life threatening. Available treatments consist of sclerotherapy, surgical removal and therapies to diminish complications. We isolated lymphatic endothelial cells (LM-LEC) from a surgically removed microcystic LM lesion. LM-LEC and normal human dermal-LEC (HD-LEC) expressed endothelial (CD31, VE-Cadherin) as well as lymphatic endothelial (Podoplanin, PROX1, LYVE1)-specific markers. Targeted gene sequencing analysis in patient-derived LM-LEC revealed the presence of two mutations in class I phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3K) genes. One is an inherited, premature stop codon in the PI3K regulatory subunit PIK3R3. The second is a somatic missense mutation in the PI3K catalytic subunit PIK3CA; this mutation has been found in association with overgrowth syndromes and cancer growth. LM-LEC exhibited angiogenic properties: both cellular proliferation and sprouting in collagen were significantly increased compared with HD-LEC. AKT-Thr308 was constitutively hyper-phosphorylated in LM-LEC. Treatment of LM-LEC with PI3-Kinase inhibitors Wortmannin and LY294 decreased cellular proliferation and prevented the phosphorylation of AKT-Thr308 in both HD-LEC and LM-LEC. Treatment with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin also diminished cellular proliferation, sprouting and AKT phosphorylation, but only in LM-LEC. Our results implicate disrupted PI3K-AKT signaling in LEC isolated from a human lymphatic malformation lesion.

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