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Somatic activating mutations in Pik3ca cause sporadic venous malformations in mice and humans.

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Castillo, Sandra D 
Tzouanacou, Elena 
Zaw-Thin, May 
Berenjeno, Inma M 
Parker, Victoria ER 


Venous malformations (VMs) are painful and deforming vascular lesions composed of dilated vascular channels, which are present from birth. Mutations in the TEK gene, encoding the tyrosine kinase receptor TIE2, are found in about half of sporadic (nonfamilial) VMs, and the causes of the remaining cases are unknown. Sclerotherapy, widely accepted as first-line treatment, is not fully efficient, and targeted therapy for this disease remains underexplored. We have generated a mouse model that faithfully mirrors human VM through mosaic expression of Pik3ca(H1047R), a constitutively active mutant of the p110α isoform of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), in the embryonic mesoderm. Endothelial expression of Pik3ca(H1047R)resulted in endothelial cell (EC) hyperproliferation, reduction in pericyte coverage of blood vessels, and decreased expression of arteriovenous specification markers. PI3K pathway inhibition with rapamycin normalized EC hyperproliferation and pericyte coverage in postnatal retinas and stimulated VM regression in vivo. In line with the mouse data, we also report the presence of activating PIK3CA mutations in human VMs, mutually exclusive with TEK mutations. Our data demonstrate a causal relationship between activating Pik3ca mutations and the genesis of VMs, provide a genetic model that faithfully mirrors the normal etiology and development of this human disease, and establish the basis for the use of PI3K-targeted therapies in VMs.



Animals, Cell Proliferation, Class I Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases, Endothelial Cells, Humans, Mesoderm, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mosaicism, Mutation, Pericytes, Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases, Receptor, TIE-2, Sirolimus, Vascular Malformations

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Sci Transl Med

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American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Wellcome Trust (097721/Z/11/Z)
Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12012/5)
Wellcome Trust (098498/Z/12/Z)
Medical Research Council (MC_PC_12012)
Postdoctoral fellowships were from EMBO (A LTF 165-2013) to S.D.C, EU Marie Curie (MEIF-CT-2005-010264) to E.T. and EU Marie Curie (PIIF-GA-2009-252846) to I.M.B. M.Z.-T. is supported by the EPSRC Early Career Fellowship of T.L.K. (EP/L006472/1). D.J.S. is a BHF Intermediate Basic Science Research Fellow (FS/15/33/31608). A.L.D is supported by the UK NIHR Joint UCL/University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre. V.E.R.P. was supported by the Wellcome Trust (097721/Z/11/Z). R.K.S. is supported by the Wellcome Trust (WT098498), the Medical Research Council (M RC_MC_UU_12012/5). R.G.K. is supported by the NIHR Rare Diseases Translational Research Collaboration. V.W. is supported by the European FPVI Integrated Project ‘Eurostemcell’. M.F.L. and A.B. are supported by the King’s College London and UCL Comprehensive Cancer Imaging Centre CR-UK and EPSRC, in association with the MRC and DoH (England). W.A.P. is supported by funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia. Work in the laboratory of M.G. is supported by research grants SAF2013-46542-P and SAF2014-59950-P from MICINN (Spain), 2014-SGR-725 from the Catalan Government, the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013/ (REA grant agreement 317250), the Institute of Health Carlos III (ISC III) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the integrated Project of Excellence no. PIE13/00022 (ONCOPROFILE). Work in the laboratory of B.V. is supported by Cancer Research UK (C23338/A15965) and the UK NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre.