The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-kinase)-Akt-mTOR pathway is mutated at high frequency in human breast cancer, and this pathway is the focus of active drug discovery and clinical investigation. Trials of personalized cancer therapy seek to leverage knowledge of cancer gene mutations by using mutations to guide the choice of targeted therapies. At the same time, cancer genome sequencing studies are identifying low frequency variants of unknown significance in known cancer genes, as well as genes of unknown function. We have performed functional analysis of six non-hotspot AKT1 pleckstrin homology domain mutants identified in recent largescale breast cancer sequencing studies. Three of these mutants cause constitutive activation of Akt1 in the absence of growth factors, leading to phosphorylation of downstream target proteins. Like the hotspot E17K mutation, these mutants confer constitutive membrane localization of Akt1. Finally, the same three mutants showed oncogenic activity in a cellular transformation assay. The other three mutants were inactive in all assays. These findings validate novel driver mutations in AKT1, and extend the number and type of mutations that activate the PI3-kinase pathway in human breast cancers.
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