PIK3CA, the gene encoding the p110α catalytic subunit of PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase), is mutated in approximately 20% of sporadic CRCs (colorectal cancers), but the role of these mutations in the pathogenesis of CRC remains unclear. In the present study we used a novel mouse model to investigate the role of the Pik3caH1047R mutation, the most common PIK3CA mutation in CRC, during the development and progression of intestinal cancer. Our results demonstrate that Pik3caH1047R, when expressed at physiological levels, is insufficient to initiate intestinal tumorigenesis; however, in the context of Apc (adenomatous polyposis coli) loss, which is observed in 80% of CRCs and by itself results in benign intestinal adenomas, the Pik3caH1047R mutation promotes the development of highly aggressive and invasive adenocarcinomas in both the small and large intestines. The results of the present study show that an activating Pik3ca mutation can act in tandem with Apc loss to drive the progression of gastrointestinal cancer and thus this disease may be susceptible to therapeutic targeting using PI3K pathway inhibitors.

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