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Open Access Research article

Aggressive neuroblastomas have high p110alpha but low p110delta and p55alpha/p50alpha protein levels compared to low stage neuroblastomas

Susanne Fransson14*, Per Kogner2, Tommy Martinsson4 and Katarina Ejeskär13

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical and Clinical Genetics, Sahlgrenska Cancer Center, Institute of Biomedicine, Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, SE-405 30, Gothenburg, Sweden

2 Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Childhood Cancer Research Unit, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 76, Stockholm, Sweden

3 School of Life sciences, University of Skövde, SE-541 28, Skövde, Sweden

4 Department of Medical and Clinical Genetics, University of Gothenburg, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, S-413 45, Gothenburg, Sweden

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Journal of Molecular Signaling 2013, 8:4  doi:10.1186/1750-2187-8-4

Published: 18 April 2013



The phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway is involved in neuroblastoma development where Akt/PKB activation is associated with poor prognosis. PI3K activity subsequently activates Akt/PKB, and as mutations of PI3K are rare in neuroblastoma and high levels of PI3K subunit p110delta is associated with favorable disease with low p-Akt/PKB, the levels of other PI3K subunits could be important for Akt activation.


Protein levels of Type IA PI3K catalytic and regulatory subunits were investigated together with levels of phosphorylated Akt/PKB and the PI3K negative regulator PTEN in primary neuroblastoma tumors. Relation between clinical markers and protein levels were evaluated through t-tests.


We found high levels of p-Akt/PKB correlating to aggressive disease and p-Akt/PKB (T308) showed inverse correlation to PTEN levels. The regulatory isomers p55alpha/p50alpha showed higher levels in favorable neuroblastoma as compared with aggressive neuroblastoma. The PI3K-subunit p110alpha was found mainly in advanced tumors while p110delta showed higher levels in favorable neuroblastoma.


Activation of the PI3K/Akt pathway is seen in neuroblastoma tumors, however the contribution of the different PI3K isoforms is unknown. Here we show that p110alpha is preferentially expressed in aggressive neuroblastomas, with high p-Akt/PKB and p110delta is mainly detected in favorable neuroblastomas, with low p-Akt/PKB. This is an important finding as PI3K-specific inhibitors are suggested for enrollment in treatment of neuroblastoma patients.

Neuroblastoma; PI3K; Akt; Signaling; Phosphoinositide 3-kinase