Rational combination of dual PI3K/mTOR blockade and Bcl-2/-xL inhibition in AML

Pankit Vachhani, Prithviraj Bose, Mohamed Rahmani, Steven Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) continues to represent an area of critical unmet need with respect to new and effective targeted therapies. The Bcl-2 family of pro- and antiapoptotic proteins stands at the crossroads of cellular survival and death, and the expression of and interactions between these proteins determine tumor cell fate. Malignant cells, which are often primed for apoptosis, are particularly vulnerable to the simultaneous disruption of cooperative survival signaling pathways. Indeed, the single agent activity of agents such as mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) inhibitors in AML has been modest. Much work in recent years has focused on strategies to enhance the therapeutic potential of the bona fide BH3-mimetic, ABT-737, which inhibits B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) and Bcl-xL. Most of these strategies target Mcl-1, an antiapoptotic protein not inhibited by ABT-737. The phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mTOR and Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling pathways are central to the growth, proliferation, and survival of AML cells, and there is much interest currently in pharmacologically interrupting these pathways. Dual inhibitors of PI3K and mTOR overcome some intrinsic disadvantages of rapamycin and its derivatives, which selectively inhibit mTOR. In this review, we discuss why combining dual PI3K/mTOR blockade with inhibition of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL, by virtue of allowing coordinate inhibition of three mutually synergistic pathways in AML cells, may be a particularly attractive therapeutic strategy in AML, the success of which may be predicted for by basal Akt activation.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)448-456
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiological Genomics
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2014


  • AML
  • Bcl-2
  • Bcl-xL
  • mTOR
  • PI3K


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