RAS interaction with PI3K: more than just another effector pathway
RAS PROTEINS ARE SMALL GTPASES KNOWN FOR THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN ONCOGENESIS: around 25% of human tumors present mutations in a member of this family. RAS operates in a complex signaling network with multiple activators and effectors, which allows them to regulate many cellular functions such as cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, and senescence. Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) is one of the main effector pathways of RAS, regulating cell growth, cell cycle entry, cell survival, cytoskeleton reorganization, and metabolism. However, it is the involvement of this pathway in human tumors that has attracted most attention. PI3K has proven to be necessary for RAS-induced transformation in vitro, and more importantly, mice with mutations in the PI3K catalytic subunit p110α that block its ability to interact with RAS are highly resistant to endogenous oncogenic KRAS-induced lung tumorigenesis and HRAS-induced skin carcinogenesis. These animals also have a delayed development of the lymphatic vasculature. Many PI3K inhibitors have been developed that are now in clinical trials. However, it is a complex pathway with many feedback loops, and interactions with other pathways make the results of its inhibition hard to predict. Combined therapy with another RAS-regulated pathway such as RAF/MEK/ERK may be the most effective way to treat cancer, at least in animal models mimicking the human disease. In this review, we will summarize current knowledge about how RAS regulates one of its best-known effectors, PI3K.