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Authors: Tamara Babic, Jelena Dinic, Sonja Stojkovic Buric, Stefan Hadzic, Milica Pesic, Dragica Radojkovic and Aleksandra Divac Rankov

Cancer drug resistance and poor selectivity towards cancer cells demand the constant search for new therapeutics. PI3K-Akt-mTOR and RAS-MAPK-ERK signaling pathways are key mechanisms involved in cell survival, proliferation, differentiation, and metabolism and their deregulation in cancer can promote development of therapy resistance. We investigated the effects of targeted inhibitors (wortmannin, GSK690693, AZD2014 and tipifarnib) towards these two pathways on early zebrafish and sea urchin development to assess their toxicity in normal, fast proliferating cells. PI3K inhibitor wortmannin and RAS inhibitor tipifarnib displayed highest toxicity while GSK690693, a pan-Akt kinase inhibitor, exhibited a less significant impact on embryo survival and development. Moreover, inhibition of the upstream part of the PI3K-Akt-mTOR pathway (wortmannin/GSK690693 co-treatment) produced a synergistic effect and impacted zebrafish embryo survival and development at much lower concentrations. Dual mTORC1/mTORC2 inhibitor AZD2014 showed no considerable effects on embryonic cells of zebrafish in concentrations substantially toxic in cancer cells. AZD2014 also caused the least prominent effects on sea urchin embryo development compared to other inhibitors. Significant toxicity of AZD2014 in human cancer cells, its capacity to sensitize resistant cancers, lower antiproliferative activity against human normal cell lines and fast proliferating embryonic cells could make this agent a promising candidate for anticancer therapy.

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