Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases (PI3Ks) are key molecules in the signal transduction pathways initiated by the binding of extracellular signals to their cell surface receptors. The PI3K family of enzymes comprises eight catalytic isoforms subdivided into three classes and control a variety of cellular processes including proliferation, growth, apoptosis, migration and metabolism. Deregulation of the PI3K pathway has been extensively investigated in connection to cancer, but is also involved in other commonly occurring diseases such as chronic inflammation, autoimmunity, allergy, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. The fact that the PI3K pathway is deregulated in a large number of human diseases, and its importance for different cellular responses, makes it an attractive drug target. Pharmacological PI3K inhibitors have played a very important role in studying cellular responses involving these enzymes. Currently, a wide range of selective PI3K inhibitors have been tested in preclinical studies and some have entered clinical trials in oncology. However, due to the complexity of PI3K signaling pathways, developing an effective anti-cancer therapy may be difficult. The biggest challenge in curing cancer patients with various signaling pathway abnormalities is to target multiple components of different signal transduction pathways with mechanism-based combinatorial treatments. In this article we will give an overview of the complex role of PI3K isoforms in human diseases and discuss their potential as drug targets. In addition, we will describe the drugs currently used in clinical trials, as well as promising emerging candidates.
Keywords: Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases (PI3Ks), cancer, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases, ATP-competitive small molecule inhibitors, PI3K/Akt signaling pathway, isoform, mouse model, inflammatory, mutation
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