Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
The phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway represents the most hyperactivated oncogenic pathway in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), a highly aggressive tumor subtype encompassing ∼15% of breast cancers and which possesses no targeted therapeutics. Despite critical contributions of its signaling arms to disease pathogenesis, PI3K pathway inhibitors have not achieved expected clinical responses in TNBC, owing largely to a still-incomplete understanding of the compensatory cascades that operate downstream of PI3K. Here, we investigated the contributions of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) to PI3K activities in clinical and experimental TNBC and discovered a prominent role for LINC01133 as a PI3K-AKT signaling effector. We found that LINC01133 exerted protumorigenic roles in TNBC and that it governed a previously undescribed mTOR Complex 2 (mTORC2)–dependent pathway that activated AKT in a PI3K-independent manner. Mechanistically, LINC01133 induced the expression of the mTORC2 component PROTOR1/PRR5 by competitively coupling away its negative messenger RNA (mRNA) regulator, the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A2/B1 (hnRNPA2B1). PROTOR1/PRR5 in turn was sufficient and necessary for LINC01133-triggered functions, casting previously unappreciated roles for this Rictor-binding protein in cellular signaling and growth. Notably, LINC01133 antagonism undermined cellular growth, and we show that the LINC01133-PROTOR1/PRR5 pathway was tightly associated with TNBC poor patient survival. Altogether, our findings uncovered a lncRNA-driven signaling shunt that acts as a critical determinant of malignancy downstream of the PI3K pathway and as a potential RNA therapeutic target in clinical TNBC management.