Vav1 downmodulates Akt in different breast cancer subtypes: A new promising chance to improve breast cancer outcome

Silvia Grassilli, Federica Brugnoli, Rossano Lattanzio, Marco Marchisio, Letizia Perracchio, Mauro Piantelli, Alberto Bavelloni, Silvano Capitani, Valeria Bertagnolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Targeting different members of the Akt pathways is a promising therapeutic chance in solid tumors including breast cancer. The variable expression levels of Akt isoforms with opposite effects on tumor growth and metastasis, however, make it difficult to select the inhibitors to be used for specific breast tumor subtypes. Using in vitro and in vivo models, we demonstrated here that Vav1, ectopically expressed in invasive breast tumors derived cells, downmodulates Akt acting at expression and/or activation levels depending on tumor subtype. The decreased p-Akt1 (Ser473) levels are a common effect of Vav1 upmodulation, suggesting that, in breast tumor-derived cells and independently of their phenotype, Vav1 interferes with signaling pathways ended to specifically recruit Akt1. Only in ER-negative cell lines, the silencing of Vav1 induced the expression but not the activation of Akt2. A retrospective analysis of early invasive breast tumors allowed to establish the prognostic significance of the p-Akt/Vav1 relationship. In particular, low Vav1 levels negatively influence the follow-up of patients with low p-Akt in their primary tumors and subjected to adjuvant chemotherapy. As the use of specific or pan Akt inhibitors may not be sufficient or may even be detrimental, increasing the levels of Vav1 could be a new approach to improve breast cancer outcomes. This might be particularly relevant for tumors with a triple-negative phenotype, for which target-based therapies are not currently available.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Oncology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • Akt1
  • Breast cancer
  • Vav1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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