Research ArticleCancer

Pentraxin-3 is a PI3K signaling target that promotes stem cell–like traits in basal-like breast cancers

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Sci. Signal.  21 Feb 2017:
Vol. 10, Issue 467, eaah4674
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aah4674

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Pentraxin-3 promotes growth of stem-like cancers

The phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway is activated in various cancers. Unfortunately, PI3K inhibitors have limited clinical efficacy, particularly in patients with a subtype of breast cancer characterized by cells with stem cell–like properties. Thomas et al. found that an activating mutation in the catalytic α subunit of PI3K enhanced the expression of a gene encoding pentraxin-3, a protein that functions in the innate immune response. Furthermore, an increase in the abundance of pentraxin-3 promoted stem cell–like traits in mammary epithelial and breast cancer cells. The mRNA abundance of PTX3 correlated with poor prognosis of patients with basal-like breast cancer. The findings link innate immune signaling with breast cancer development and suggest that targeting pentraxin-3 may suppress tumor growth in a subset of patients.