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Open Access Research article

The class I PI3K/Akt pathway is critical for cancer cell survival in dogs and offers an opportunity for therapeutic intervention

Yu-Ting Chen, Karen AL Tan, Lisa Y Pang and David J Argyle*

Author Affiliations

Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK, EH25 9RG

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BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:73  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-73

Published: 30 May 2012



Using novel small-molecular inhibitors, we explored the feasibility of the class I PI3K/Akt/mTORC1 signaling pathway as a therapeutic target in canine oncology either by using pathway inhibitors alone, in combination or combined with conventional chemotherapeutic drugs in vitro.


We demonstrate that growth and survival of the cell lines tested are predominantly dependent on class I PI3K/Akt signaling rather than mTORC1 signaling. In addition, the newly developed inhibitors ZSTK474 and KP372-1 which selectively target pan-class I PI3K and Akt, respectively, and Rapamycin which has been well-established as highly specific mTOR inhibitor, decrease viability of canine cancer cell lines. All inhibitors demonstrated inhibition of phosphorylation of pathway members. Annexin V staining demonstrated that KP372-1 is a potent inducer of apoptosis whereas ZSTK474 and Rapamycin are weaker inducers of apoptosis. Simultaneous inhibition of class I PI3K and mTORC1 by ZSTK474 combined with Rapamycin additively or synergistically reduced cell viability whereas responses to the PI3K pathway inhibitors in combination with conventional drug Doxorubicin were cell line-dependent.


This study highlighted the importance of class I PI3K/Akt axis signaling in canine tumour cells and identifies it as a promising therapeutic target.

Canine; Cancer; PI3; AKT; MTOR; Therapeutic; Target