Phosphatidylinositol ether lipid analogues induce AMP-activated protein kinase-dependent death in LKB1-mutant non-small cell lung cancer cells

Regan M. Memmott, Joell J. Gills, Melinda Hollingshead, Margaret C. Powers, Zhiping Chen, Bruce Kemp, Alan Kozikowski, Phillip A. Dennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Loss of function of the tumor suppressor LKB1 occurs in 30% to 50% of lung adenocarcinomas. Because LKB1 activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which can negatively regulate mTOR, AMPK activation might be desirable for cancer therapy. However, no known compounds activate AMPK independently of LKB1 in vivo, and the usefulness of activating AMPK in LKB1-mutant cancers is unknown. Here, we show that lipid-based Akt inhibitors, phosphatidylinositol ether lipid analogues (PIA), activate AMPK independently of LKB1. PIAs activated AMPK in LKB1-mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines with similar concentration dependence as that required to inhibit Akt. However, AMPK activation was independent of Akt inhibition. AMPK activation was a major mechanism of mTOR inhibition. To assess whether another kinase capable of activating AMPK, CaMKKβ, contributed to PIA-induced AMPK activation, we used an inhibitor of CaMKK, STO-609. STO-609 inhibited PIA-induced AMPK activation in LKB1-mutant NSCLC cells, and delayed AMPK activation in wild-type LKB1 NSCLC cells. In addition, AMPK activation was not observed in NSCLC cells with mutant CaMKKβ, suggesting that CaMKKβ contributes to PIA-induced AMPK activation in cells. AMPK activation promoted PIA-induced cytotoxicity because PIAs were less cytotoxic in AMPKα-/- murine embryonic fibroblasts or LKB1-mutant NSCLC cells transfected with mutant AMPK. This mechanism was also relevant in vivo. Treatment of LKB1-mutant NSCLC xenografts with PIA decreased tumor volume by ∼50% and activated AMPK. These studies show that PIAs recapitulate the activity of two tumor suppressors (PTEN and LKB1) that converge on mTOR. Moreover, they suggest that PIAs might have utility in the treatment of LKB1-mutant lung adenocarcinomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-588
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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