Journal of Gastrointestinal Cancer

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 35–41 | Cite as

A Deregulated PI3K-AKT Signaling Pathway in Patients with Colorectal Cancer

  • Tao ZhangEmail author
  • Yuanping Ma
  • Jiansong Fang
  • Chang Liu
  • Liangrong Chen
Original Research



Molecular switches in phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-AKT signaling pathway may serve as potential targets for the treatment of colorectal cancer (CRC). This study aims to profile the gene alterations involved in PI3K-AKT signaling pathway in patients with CRC.


Tumoral and matched peritumoral tissues were collected from 15 CRC patients who went routine surgery. A human PI3K-AKT signaling pathway polymerase chain reaction (PCR) array, which profiled the transcriptional changes of a total number of 84 genes involved in the PI3K-AKT pathway, was then applied to determine the gene alterations in CRC tumoral tissue with matched peritumoral tissue as a healthy control. Subsequent real-time reverse transcription PCR and western blot (WB) with different subgroups of CRC patients were then performed to further validate the array findings.


The PCR array identified 14 aberrantly expressed genes involved in the PI3K-AKT signaling pathway in CRC tumoral tissue, among which 12 genes, CCND1, CSNK2A1, EIF4E, EIF4EBP1, EIF4G1, FOS, GRB10, GSK3B, ILK, PTK2, PTPN11, and PHEB were significantly up-modulated (> two fold) while the remaining two, PDK1 and PIK3CG, were down-regulated (> two fold). These genes involve in the regulation of gene transcription and translation, cell cycle, and cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation. The real-time reverse transcription PCR validation agreed with the array data towards the tested genes, CCND1, EIF4E, FOS, and PIK3CG, while it failed to obtain similar result for PDK1. Interestingly, the WB analyses were further consistent with the PCR results that the protein levels of CCND1, EIF4E, and FOS were apparently up-regulated and that protein PIK3CG was down-modulated.


Taken together, the present study identified a deregulated PI3K-AKT signaling pathway in CRC patients, which might serve as therapeutic target(s).


Colorectal cancer PI3K-AKT signaling pathway PCR array 



We would like to thank Guo-Kuan Chen, Shanghai KangChen Bio-tech (China), for technical assistance for the PCR array experiments.

Author Contribution

TZ designed the study, analyzed the data, and wrote the paper; CL, JSF, YPM, and LRC collected the specimens, performed the experiments, and collected the data. All authors have read and approved the final version to be submitted.


The current study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 81260536).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Ruikang Hospital of Guangxi Traditional Chinese Medical University (Guangxi, China). All procedures were performed according to the principles expressed in the Declaration of Helsinki.


All participants were explained their rights and signed the written informed consent before participation.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GastroenterologyRuikang Hospital of Guangxi Traditional Chinese Medical UniversityNanningChina

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