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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences

First Advisor

Jesika Faridi

First Committee Member

John Livesey

Second Committee Member

Timothy Smith

Third Committee Member

David Thomas

Fourth Committee Member

Lisa Wrischnik


Dysregulation of PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway has been reported in various pathologies, such as cancer and insulin resistance. The proline-rich AKT substrate of 40-kDa (PRAS40), also known as AKT substrate 1 (AKT1S1), lies at the crossroads of these cascades and inhibits the activity of the mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) kinase. Firstly, our findings showed that disruption of PRAS40, a substrate of AKT and component of mTORC1, alters glucose homeostasis and prevent hyperglycemia in the streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes mouse model. PRAS40 ablation resulted in a mild lowering of blood glucose levels and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C), a lowered insulin requirement, and improved glucose tolerance in untreated PRAS40 gene knockout (PRAS40 (-/-)) as compared to wild-type (PRAS40 (+/+)) mice. PRAS40 deletion significantly attenuates hyperglycemia in STZ-induced PRAS40 (-/-) mice through increased hepatic AKT and mTORC1 signaling, a lowered serum insulin requirement, and altered hepatic GLUT4 levels. Furthermore, we investigated the role of PRAS40 in possible feedback mechanisms, and altered AKT/PRAS40/mTOR signaling in the pathogenesis of tumor progression. For this we probed new datasets extracted from Oncomine, a cancer microarray database containing datasets derived from patient samples, to further understand the role of PRAS40 (AKT1S1). These data strongly supports the previous findings that PRAS40 may serve as a potential therapeutic target for various cancers. Elevated levels of HER2 and PRAS40 are found in some human breast cancers. To directly test the importance of these genetic events in mammary tumorigenesis, we assessed whether disruption of PRAS40 could alter mammary tumor occurrence in HER2 overexpressing mice. HER2 overexpressing mice expressing the activated rat Erbb2 (c-neu) oncogene under the direction of the MMTV promoter was bred with Cre-recombined homozygous (PRAS40-/-) mice. We examined mammary tumor development in the presence (PRAS40+/+) or absence (PRAS40-/-) of PRAS40 using this double transgenic mouse mammary tumor model. Loss of PRAS40 resulted in a delayed mammary tumor onset, improved tumor-free survival, and reduced mammary pre-cancerous lesions in PRAS40-/- versus PRAS40+/+ HER2 overexpressing mice. These results suggest that PRAS40 knockdown could be an attractive target and adjuvant therapy in HER2-positive breast cancers.





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