The most common PIK3CA mutation, producing the H1047R mutant of p110α, arises in myriad malignancies and is typically observed in low-grade breast tumours. In contrast, amplification is observed for wild-type PIK3CB, encoding p110β, and occurs at low frequency but in aggressive, high-grade metastatic tumours. We hypothesized that mutant p110αH1047R and wild-type p110β give rise to distinct transformed phenotypes. We show that p110αH1047R and wild-type p110β, but not wild-type p110α, transform MCF-10A cells and constitutively stimulate phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-AKT pathway signalling. However, their resultant morphological transformed phenotypes are distinct. p110αH1047R induced an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) commensurate with SNAIL (also known as SNAI1) induction and loss of E-cadherin. Upon p110β expression, however, E-cadherin expression was maintained despite cells readily delaminating from epithelial sheets. Distinct from the prominent filopodia in p110αH1047R-expressing cells, p110β induced formation of lamellipodia, and these cells migrated with significantly greater velocity and decreased directionality. p110β-induced phenotypic alterations were accompanied by hyperactivation of RAC1; the dependency of transformation of p110β-binding to Rac1 revealed using a Rac1-binding mutant of p110β. Thus, PIK3CB amplification induces a transformed phenotype that is dependent upon a p110β-Rac1 signalling loop and is distinct from the transformed phenotype induced by p110αH1047R.

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