School of Biological Sciences, AMS Building, University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 228, Reading RG6 6AJ, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Of the three classes of true phosphoinositide (PI) 3-kinases, the class II subdivision, which consists of three isoforms, PI3K-C2α, PI3K-C2β and PI3K-C2γ, is the least well understood. There are a number of reasons for this. This class of PI 3-kinase was identified exclusively by PCR and homology cloning approaches and not on the basis of cellular function. Like class I PI 3-kinases, class II PI 3-kinases are activated by diverse receptor types. To complicate the elucidation of class II PI 3-kinase function further, their in vitro substrate specificity is intermediate between the receptor activated class I PI 3-kinases and the housekeeping class III PI 3-kinase. The class II PI 3-kinases are inhibited by the two commonly used PI 3-kinase family selective inhibitors, wortmannin and LY294002, and there are no widely available, specific inhibitors for the individual classes or isoforms. Here the current state of understanding of class II PI 3-kinase function is reviewed, followed by an appraisal as to whether there is enough evidence to suggest that pharmaceutical companies, who are currently targeting the class I PI 3-kinases in an attempt to generate anticancer agents, should also consider targeting the class II PI 3-kinases.