MTOR

Gene Summary

Gene:MTOR; mechanistic target of rapamycin (serine/threonine kinase)
Aliases: FRAP, FRAP1, FRAP2, RAFT1, RAPT1
Location:1p36.2
Summary:The protein encoded by this gene belongs to a family of phosphatidylinositol kinase-related kinases. These kinases mediate cellular responses to stresses such as DNA damage and nutrient deprivation. This protein acts as the target for the cell-cycle arrest and immunosuppressive effects of the FKBP12-rapamycin complex. The ANGPTL7 gene is located in an intron of this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Sep 2008]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:serine/threonine-protein kinase mTOR
HPRD
Source:NCBIAccessed: 17 August, 2015

Ontology:

What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 17 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 17 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (6)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: MTOR (cancer-related)

Cabrera-López C, Bullich G, Martí T, et al.
Insight into response to mTOR inhibition when PKD1 and TSC2 are mutated.
BMC Med Genet. 2015; 16:39 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Mutations in TSC1 or TSC2 cause the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), while mutations in PKD1 or PKD2 cause autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). PKD1 lays immediately adjacent to TSC2 and deletions involving both genes, the PKD1/TSC2 contiguous gene syndrome (CGS), are characterized by severe ADPKD, plus TSC. mTOR inhibitors have proven effective in reducing angiomyolipoma (AML) in TSC and total kidney volume in ADPKD but without a positive effect on renal function.
METHODS AND RESULTS: We describe a patient with independent truncating PKD1 and TSC2 mutations who has the expected phenotype for both diseases independently instead of the severe one described in PKD1/TSC2-CGS. Treatment with mTOR inhibitors reduced the AML and kidney volume for 2 years but thereafter they resumed growth; no positive effect on renal function was seen throughout. This is the first case addressing the response to mTOR treatment when independent truncating mutations in PKD1 and TSC2 are present.
CONCLUSIONS: This case reveals that although PKD1 and TSC2 are adjacent genes and there is likely cross-talk between the PKD1 and TSC2 signalling pathways regulating mTOR, having independent TSC2 and PKD1 mutations can give rise to a milder kidney phenotype than is typical in PKD1/TSC2-CGS cases. A short-term beneficial effect of mTOR inhibition on AML and total kidney volume was not reflected in improved renal function.

Weeber F, Koudijs MJ, Hoogstraat M, et al.
Effective Therapeutic Intervention and Comprehensive Genetic Analysis of mTOR Signaling in PEComa: A Case Report.
Anticancer Res. 2015; 35(6):3399-403 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: Perivascular epithelioid cell tumors (PEComas) are rare mesenchymal neoplasms. The exact genetic alterations underlying the pathophysiology of PEComas are largely unknown, although it has been shown that activation of the Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway plays a pivotal role. Herein we describe the successful treatment of a patient with metastatic PEComa with the mTOR inhibitor everolimus and a comprehensive analysis to identify mechanisms for response.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Immunohistochemistry, array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) and genetic analyses were performed.
RESULTS: Immunohistochemistry confirmed constitutive activation of mTOR. aCGH revealed a hyperdiploid karyotype affecting large regions of the genome. Next-generation sequencing did not reveal any tumor-specific mutations in mTOR-related genes.
CONCLUSION: Our results show the complexity of determining causal genetic alterations that can predict responsiveness to mTOR inhibition, even for a tumor with a complete remission to this specific treatment.

Grzegorek I, Zuba-Surma E, Chabowski M, et al.
Characterization of cells cultured from chylous effusion from a patient with sporadic lymphangioleiomyomatosis.
Anticancer Res. 2015; 35(6):3341-51 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a progressive, rare interstitial lung disease that almost exclusively affects women. It is caused by a mutation in one of the tuberous sclerosis genes, TSC1 or TSC2, and constitutive activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway in smooth muscle-like cells (LAM cells). The heightened proliferation and accumulation of LAM cells leads to the destruction of lung tissue.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: In the present study, we developed a cell line (S-LAM1) derived from a chylous effusion obtained from a patient with sporadic, pulmonary LAM and evaluated its phenotype using immunofluorescence, flow cytometry, and an image stream system. Ultrastructure was assessed using a transmission electron microscope. To assess the ability of LAM cells to move and migrate (which is strictly associated with the ability to metastasize), we carried-out a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) array analysis of 84 genes involved in cell motility. In order to evaluate the effect of rapamycin, a natural inhibitor of mTOR kinase, on S-LAM1 cells, a sulforhodamine B cell viability assay was performed with different concentrations of rapamycin.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: The phenotype of these cells is consistent with the biology of LAM cells. S-LAM1 cells present combined smooth muscle, melanocytic, and lymphatic endothelium lineage, as well as the presence of mesenchymal differentiation markers. A particular pattern of gene expression, including high expression of ezrin (EZR), myosin heavy chain 10, non-muscle (MYH10), and myosin light chain kinase (MYLK) and a greatly decreased expression of supervillin (SVIL), when compared to controls, indicates a high potential motility activity, especially of cell spreading. Rapamycin significantly, although only partially, inhibited S-LAM1 cell proliferation in vitro, and should, perhaps, be considered in the future in combination with other agents.

DiMario FJ, Sahin M, Ebrahimi-Fakhari D
Tuberous sclerosis complex.
Pediatr Clin North Am. 2015; 62(3):633-48 [PubMed] Related Publications
Tuberous sclerosis complex is an autosomal-dominant, neurocutaneous, multisystem disorder characterized by cellular hyperplasia and tissue dysplasia. The genetic cause is mutations in the TSC1 gene, found on chromosome 9q34, and TSC2 gene, found on chromosome 16p13. The clinical phenotypes resulting from mutations in either of the 2 genes are variable in each individual. Herein, advances in the understanding of molecular mechanisms in tuberous sclerosis complex are reviewed, and current guidelines for diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, and management are summarized.

Moriarity BS, Otto GM, Rahrmann EP, et al.
A Sleeping Beauty forward genetic screen identifies new genes and pathways driving osteosarcoma development and metastasis.
Nat Genet. 2015; 47(6):615-24 [PubMed] Related Publications
Osteosarcomas are sarcomas of the bone, derived from osteoblasts or their precursors, with a high propensity to metastasize. Osteosarcoma is associated with massive genomic instability, making it problematic to identify driver genes using human tumors or prototypical mouse models, many of which involve loss of Trp53 function. To identify the genes driving osteosarcoma development and metastasis, we performed a Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon-based forward genetic screen in mice with and without somatic loss of Trp53. Common insertion site (CIS) analysis of 119 primary tumors and 134 metastatic nodules identified 232 sites associated with osteosarcoma development and 43 sites associated with metastasis, respectively. Analysis of CIS-associated genes identified numerous known and new osteosarcoma-associated genes enriched in the ErbB, PI3K-AKT-mTOR and MAPK signaling pathways. Lastly, we identified several oncogenes involved in axon guidance, including Sema4d and Sema6d, which we functionally validated as oncogenes in human osteosarcoma.

Kato H, Sekine Y, Furuya Y, et al.
Metformin inhibits the proliferation of human prostate cancer PC-3 cells via the downregulation of insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015; 461(1):115-21 [PubMed] Related Publications
Metformin is a biguanide drug that is widely used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Recent studies have shown that metformin inhibits cancer cell proliferation and tumor growth both in vitro and in vivo. The anti-tumor mechanisms of metformin include activation of the AMP-activated protein kinase/mTOR pathway and direct inhibition of insulin/insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-mediated cellular proliferation. However, the anti-tumor mechanism in prostate cancer remains unclear. Because activation of the IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R) is required for prostate cell proliferation, IGF-1R inhibitors may be of therapeutic value. Accordingly, we examined the effects of metformin on IGF-1R signaling in prostate cancer cells. Metformin significantly inhibited PC-3 cell proliferation, migration, and invasion. IGF-1R mRNA expression decreased significantly after 48 h of treatment, and IGF-1R protein expression decreased in a similar manner. IGF-1R knockdown by siRNA transfection led to inhibited proliferation, migration and invasion of PC-3 cells. IGF-1 activated both ERK1/2 and Akt, but these effects were attenuated by metformin treatment. In addition, intraperitoneal treatment with metformin significantly reduced tumor growth and IGF-1R mRNA expression in PC-3 xenografts. Our results suggest that metformin is a potent inhibitor of the IGF-1/IGF-1R system and may be beneficial in prostate cancer treatment.

Smith MJ
Germline and somatic mutations in meningiomas.
Cancer Genet. 2015; 208(4):107-14 [PubMed] Related Publications
Meningiomas arise from the arachnoid layer of the meninges that surround the brain and spine. They account for over one third of all primary central nervous system tumors in adults and confer a significant risk of location-dependent morbidity due to compression or displacement. A significant increase in risk of meningiomas is associated with neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) disease through mutation of the NF2 gene. In addition, approximately 5% of individuals with schwannomatosis disease develop meningiomas, through mutation of the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex subunit, SMARCB1. Recently, a second SWI/SNF complex subunit, SMARCE1, was identified as a cause of clear cell meningiomas, indicating a wider role for this complex in meningioma disease. The sonic hedgehog (SHH)-GLI1 signaling pathway gene, SUFU, has also been identified as the cause of hereditary multiple meningiomas in a large Finnish family. The recent identification of somatic mutations in components of the SHH-GLI1 and AKT1-MTOR signaling pathways indicates the potential for cross talk of these pathways in the development of meningiomas. This review describes the known meningioma predisposition genes and their links to the recently identified somatic mutations.

Tanida T, Matsuda KI, Yamada S, et al.
Estrogen-related Receptor β Reduces the Subnuclear Mobility of Estrogen Receptor α and Suppresses Estrogen-dependent Cellular Function.
J Biol Chem. 2015; 290(19):12332-45 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/05/2016 Related Publications
Estrogen-related receptor (ERR) is a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily that has strong homology with estrogen receptor (ER) α. ERR has three subtypes (α, β, and γ) expressed in estrogen-sensitive organs, including ovary, breast, and brain. No endogenous ligands of ERRs have been identified, but these receptors share a common DNA element with ERα and control estrogen-mediated gene transcription. Recent evidence suggests a role of ERRs in estrogen-related pathophysiology, but the detailed mechanisms of ERR functions in estrogen-related tissues are unclear. Using live-cell imaging with fluorescent protein labeling, we found that only ERRβ among the ERRs exhibits a punctate intranuclear pattern overlapping with ERα following 17β-estradiol (E2)-stimulation. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching showed significant reduction of the mobility of ligand-activated ERα with co-expression of ERRβ. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer revealed that ERRβ directly interacts with ERα. The N-terminal domain of ERRβ was identified as the region that interacts with ERα. We also found a correlation between punctate cluster formation of ERα and interaction between the receptors. Expression of ERRβ significantly repressed ERα-mediated transactivity, whereas that of other ERR subtypes had no effect on the transactivity of ERα. Consistent with this finding, E2-stimulated proliferation of MCF-7 breast carcinoma cells and bcl-2 expression was significantly inhibited by expression of ERRβ. These results provide strong evidence for a suppressive effect of ERRβ on estrogen signaling through reduction of the intranuclear mobility of ERα. The findings further suggest a unique inhibitory role for ERRβ in estrogen-dependent cellular function such as cancer cell proliferation.

Cheong JK, Zhang F, Chua PJ, et al.
Casein kinase 1α-dependent feedback loop controls autophagy in RAS-driven cancers.
J Clin Invest. 2015; 125(4):1401-18 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 08/05/2016 Related Publications
Activating mutations in the RAS oncogene are common in cancer but are difficult to therapeutically target. RAS activation promotes autophagy, a highly regulated catabolic process that metabolically buffers cells in response to diverse stresses. Here we report that casein kinase 1α (CK1α), a ubiquitously expressed serine/threonine kinase, is a key negative regulator of oncogenic RAS-induced autophagy. Depletion or pharmacologic inhibition of CK1α enhanced autophagic flux in oncogenic RAS-driven human fibroblasts and multiple cancer cell lines. FOXO3A, a master longevity mediator that transcriptionally regulates diverse autophagy genes, was a critical target of CK1α, as depletion of CK1α reduced levels of phosphorylated FOXO3A and increased expression of FOXO3A-responsive genes. Oncogenic RAS increased CK1α protein abundance via activation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. In turn, elevated levels of CK1α increased phosphorylation of nuclear FOXO3A, thereby inhibiting transactivation of genes critical for RAS-induced autophagy. In both RAS-driven cancer cells and murine xenograft models, pharmacologic CK1α inactivation synergized with lysosomotropic agents to inhibit growth and promote tumor cell death. Together, our results identify a kinase feedback loop that influences RAS-dependent autophagy and suggest that targeting CK1α-regulated autophagy offers a potential therapeutic opportunity to treat oncogenic RAS-driven cancers.

Li K, Chen X, Liu C, et al.
Pirarubicin induces an autophagic cytoprotective response through suppression of the mammalian target of rapamycin signaling pathway in human bladder cancer cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015; 460(2):380-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
Pirarubicin is widely used in intravesical chemotherapy for bladder cancer, but its efficacy is limited due to drug resistance; the mechanism has not been well studied. Emerging evidence shows that autophagy can be a novel target for cancer therapy. This study aimed to investigate the role of autophagy in pirarubicin-treated bladder cancer cells. Bladder cancer cells EJ and J82 were treated with pirarubicin, siRNA, 3-methyladenine or hydroxychloroquine. Cell proliferation and apoptosis were tested by cell survival assay and flow cytometric analysis, respectively. Autophagy was evaluated by immunoblotting before and after the treatments. The phosphorylated mammalian target of rapamycin, serine/threonine kinase p70 S6 kinase, and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E binding protein 1 were also investigated by immunoblotting. We found that pirarubicin could induce autophagy in bladder cancer cells. Inhibition of autophagy by 3-methyladenine, hydroxychloroquine or knockdown of autophagy related gene 3 significantly increased apoptosis in pirarubicin-treated bladder cancer cells. Pirarubicin-induced autophagy was mediated via the mTOR/p70S6K/4E-BP1 signaling pathway. In conclusion, autophagy induced by pirarubicin plays a cytoprotective role in bladder cancer cells, suggesting that inhibition of autophagy may improve efficacy over traditional pirarubicin chemotherapy in bladder cancer patients.

Faraj SF, Chaux A, Gonzalez-Roibon N, et al.
Immunohistochemical expression of ARID1A in penile squamous cell carcinomas: a tissue microarray study of 112 cases.
Hum Pathol. 2015; 46(5):761-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
ARID1A, a member of the chromatin remodeling genes family, has been suggested as a novel tumor suppressor gene in gynecologic malignancies. However, its role in penile cancer has yet to be determined. This study assesses the immunohistochemical expression of ARID1A in penile squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and its association with pathologic features, human papillomavirus (HPV) status, and previously reported mammalian target of rapamycin pathway markers in the same cohort. Four tissue microarrays were constructed from 112 cases of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded penile SCC from Paraguay. Each tumor was sampled 3 to 12 times. ARID1A expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry using a polyclonal rabbit anti-ARID1A (BAF250A) antibody. An H score was calculated in each spot as the sum of expression intensity (0-3+) by extent (0%-100%). Median H score per case was used for statistical analysis. ARID1A expression was observed in all cases, ranging from 3% to 100% of tumor cells (median, 95%). In 96 cases (86%), ARID1A expression was observed in 90% or more tumor cells. HPV DNA was detected in 20 (38%) of 52 analyzed samples. There was a significant trend of association between ARID1A and histologic grade. ARID1A expression was not associated with histologic subtype (P = .61) or HPV status (P = .18). ARID1A expression decreased with decreasing levels of PTEN expression (P = .01). ARID1A was expressed in penile SCC, in most cases at high levels. A significant trend of association was found between histologic grade and ARID1A expression, with lower ARID1A expression, lower histologic grades, and decreased PTEN expression.

Choi MR, Yoo NJ, An CH, Lee SH
Frameshift mutations in mammalian target of rapamycin pathway genes and their regional heterogeneity in sporadic colorectal cancers.
Hum Pathol. 2015; 46(5):753-60 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is known to be involved in cancer pathogenesis. The aim of our study was to find whether mTOR-related genes were mutated and expressionally altered in colorectal cancers (CRCs). Through public database searching, we found that PIK3CB, insulin receptor substrate 1/2 (IRS1), RPS6, EIF4B, RPS6KA5, and PRKAA2 that were known as mTOR-related genes possessed mononucleotide repeats in DNA coding sequences that could be mutated in cancers with microsatellite instability (MSI). We analyzed 124 CRCs by single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis and DNA sequencing and found 7 (8.9%), 8 (10.1%), and 3 (3.8%) of 79 CRCs with high MSI that harbored IRS1, EIF4B, and RPS6KA5 frameshift mutations, respectively. These mutations were not identified in stable MSI/low MSI (0/45). In addition, we analyzed intratumoral heterogeneity (ITH) of PIK3CB, IRS1, RPS6, EIF4B, RPS6KA5, and PRKAA2 frameshift mutations in 16 CRCs and found that IRS1, EIF4B, and RPS6KA5 mutations had regional ITH in 2, 2, and 1 CRCs, respectively. We also analyzed IRS1 expression in the CRCs by immunohistochemistry. Loss of IRS1 expression was identified in 31% of the CRCs. The loss of expression was more common in those with IRS1 mutation than those with wild-type IRS1. Our data indicate mTOR-related genes harbored not only somatic mutations but also mutational ITH and loss of expression, which together might play a role in tumorigenesis of CRC, especially with high MSI. Our data also suggest that mutation analysis in multiregional areas is needed for a precise evaluation of mutation status in CRC with MSI-H.

Zuo M, Rashid A, Churi C, et al.
Novel therapeutic strategy targeting the Hedgehog signalling and mTOR pathways in biliary tract cancer.
Br J Cancer. 2015; 112(6):1042-51 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 17/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Activation of the PI3K/mTOR and Hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathways occurs frequently in biliary tract cancer (BTC). Crosstalk between these pathways occurs in other gastrointestinal cancers. The respective signalling inhibitors rapamycin and vismodegib may inhibit BTC synergistically and suppress cancer stem cells (CSCs).
METHODS: Gene expression profiling for p70S6k and Gli1 was performed with BTC cell lines. Tumour and pathway inhibitory effects of rapamycin and vismodegib were investigated in BTC preclinical models and CSCs.
RESULTS: Rapamycin and vismodegib synergistically reduced BTC cell viability and proliferation. This drug combination arrested BTC Mz-ChA-1 cells in the G1 phase but had no significant effect on the cell cycle of BTC Sk-ChA-1 cells. Combined treatment inhibited the proliferation of CSCs and ALDH-positive cells. Nanog and Oct-4 expression in CSCs was decreased by the combination treatment. Western blotting results showed the p-p70S6K, p-Gli1, p-mTOR, and p-AKT protein expression were inhibited by the combination treatment in BTC cells. In an Mz-ChA-1 xenograft model, combination treatment resulted in 80% inhibition of tumour growth and prolonged tumour doubling time. In 4 of 10 human BTC specimens, tumour p-p70S6K and Gli1 protein expression levels were decreased with the combination treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: Targeted inhibition of the PI3K/mTOR and Hhpathways indicates a new avenue for BTC treatment with combination therapy.

Home T, Jensen RA, Rao R
Heat shock factor 1 in protein homeostasis and oncogenic signal integration.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(6):907-12 [PubMed] Related Publications
Heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) is a stress-inducible transcription factor and has been described as a multi-faceted modulator of tumorigenesis. Heat shock, accumulation of misfolded proteins, or malignant transformation promotes the activation and nuclear translocation of HSF1, where it binds to the promoters of heat shock proteins and an array of nonheat shock-regulated proteins to upregulate their transcription. These stress-responsive and tumor-promoting genes in turn alter the ability of tumor cells to respond to a variety of stresses and enable them to thrive in less than favorable growth conditions. Although a direct role for HSF1 in promoting mRNA transcription of tumor-promoting genes has been suggested, it appears that this property is context- and cell-type dependent. Furthermore, recent studies have demonstrated a direct involvement of mTOR signaling in regulating HSF1-mediated transcription, thus establishing a direct link between protein translation and HSF1 activity. Interestingly, there is a growing understanding of the signaling pathways that are modulated by HSF1 in a variety of tumor types and the co-option of these survival pathways by HSF1 to promote tumorigenesis. This review will focus on the role of HSF1 in protein homeostasis and HSF1-mediated oncogenic signaling pathways that together promote tumorigenesis.

Thiel A, Ristimäki A
Targeted therapy in gastric cancer.
APMIS. 2015; 123(5):365-72 [PubMed] Related Publications
Gastric cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage. Although chemotherapy prolongs survival and improves quality of life, the survival of gastric cancer patients with advanced disease is short. Thanks to recent insights into the molecular pathways involved in gastric carcinogenesis, new targeted treatment options have become available for gastric cancer patients. Trastuzumab, an antibody targeted to HER-2, was shown to improve survival of advanced gastric cancer patients harboring HER-2 overexpression due to gene amplification in their tumor cells, and is currently also explored in adjuvant and neoadjuvant settings. Another agent with promising results in clinical trials is ramucirumab, an antibody targeting VEGFR-2. No clear survival benefit, however, were experienced with agents targeting EGFR (cetuximab, panitumumab), VEGF-A (bevacizumab), or mTOR (everolimus). Drugs targeting c-MET/HGF are currently under investigation in biomarker-selected cohorts, with promising results in early clinical trials. This review will summarize the current status of targeted treatment options in gastric cancer.

Tavallai M, Hamed HA, Roberts JL, et al.
Nexavar/Stivarga and viagra interact to kill tumor cells.
J Cell Physiol. 2015; 230(9):2281-98 [PubMed] Related Publications
We determined whether the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib or its derivative regorafenib interacted with phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors such as Viagra (sildenafil) to kill tumor cells. PDE5 and PDGFRα/β were over-expressed in liver tumors compared to normal liver tissue. In multiple cell types in vitro sorafenib/regorafenib and PDE5 inhibitors interacted in a greater than additive fashion to cause tumor cell death, regardless of whether cells were grown in 10 or 100% human serum. Knock down of PDE5 or of PDGFRα/β recapitulated the effects of the individual drugs. The drug combination increased ROS/RNS levels that were causal in cell killing. Inhibition of CD95/FADD/caspase 8 signaling suppressed drug combination toxicity. Knock down of ULK-1, Beclin1, or ATG5 suppressed drug combination lethality. The drug combination inactivated ERK, AKT, p70 S6K, and mTOR and activated JNK. The drug combination also reduced mTOR protein expression. Activation of ERK or AKT was modestly protective whereas re-expression of an activated mTOR protein or inhibition of JNK signaling almost abolished drug combination toxicity. Sildenafil and sorafenib/regorafenib interacted in vivo to suppress xenograft tumor growth using liver and colon cancer cells. From multiplex assays on tumor tissue and plasma, we discovered that increased FGF levels and ERBB1 and AKT phosphorylation were biomarkers that were directly associated with lower levels of cell killing by 'rafenib + sildenafil. Our data are now being translated into the clinic for further determination as to whether this drug combination is a useful anti-tumor therapy for solid tumor patients.

Scheller T, Hellerbrand C, Moser C, et al.
mTOR inhibition improves fibroblast growth factor receptor targeting in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Br J Cancer. 2015; 112(5):841-50 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 03/03/2016 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Systemic therapy has proven only marginal effects in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) so far. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of targeting fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) on tumour and stromal cells in HCC models.
METHODS: Human and murine HCC cells, endothelial cells (ECs), vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), human HCC samples, FGFR inhibitor BGJ398 and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor rapamycin were used. Effects on growth, motility, signalling and angiogenic markers were determined. In vivo subcutaneous and syngeneic orthotopic tumour models were used.
RESULTS: In tumour cells and ECs, targeting FGFR showed significant inhibitory effects on signalling and motility. Minor effects of FGFR inhibition were observed on VSMCs and HSCs, which were significantly enhanced by combining FGFR and mTOR blockade. In vivo daily (5 mg kg(-1)) treatment with BGJ398 led to a significant growth inhibition in subcutaneous tumour models, but only a combination of FGFR and mTOR blockade impaired tumour growth in the orthotopic model. This was paralleled by reduced tumour cell proliferation, vascularisation, pericytes and increased apoptosis.
CONCLUSIONS: Targeting FGFR with BGJ398 affects tumour cells and ECs, whereas only a combination with mTOR inhibition impairs recruitment of VSMCs and HSCs. Therefore, this study provides evidence for combined FGFR/mTOR inhibition in HCC.

Zhou W, He MR, Jiao HL, et al.
The tumor-suppressor gene LZTS1 suppresses colorectal cancer proliferation through inhibition of the AKT-mTOR signaling pathway.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 360(1):68-75 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Leucine zipper tumor suppressor gene 1 (LZTS1/FEZ1) gene was originally identified as a potential tumor suppressor. However, the expression pattern and the role of LZTS1 in the progression of colorectal cancer (CRC) have not been well characterized. Herein, we reported that LZTS1 was markedly reduced in CRC tissues compared with matched adjacent normal intestine epithelial tissues. In analysis of 160 CRC specimens, we revealed that decreased expression of LZTS1 was correlated to aggressive characteristics and poor survival of patients with CRC. Moreover, we found that expression of LZTS1 in CRC cells significantly inhibited cell proliferation in vitro and prohibited tumor growth in vitro. On the contrary, silence of LZTS1 promoted cell proliferation and tumor growth in CRC cells. Furthermore, we demonstrated that LZTS1 inhibited cell proliferation and tumor growth in CRC in part via suppression of AMT-mTOR, subsequently down-regulating p27Kip and up-regulating cyclin D1. These findings suggest that LZTS1 plays a potential tumor suppressor role in CRC progression and represents a valuable clinical prognostic marker of this disease.

Betts BC, Sagatys EM, Veerapathran A, et al.
CD4+ T cell STAT3 phosphorylation precedes acute GVHD, and subsequent Th17 tissue invasion correlates with GVHD severity and therapeutic response.
J Leukoc Biol. 2015; 97(4):807-19 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2016 Related Publications
Th17 cells contribute to severe GVHD in murine bone marrow transplantation. Targeted deletion of the RORγt transcription factor or blockade of the JAK2-STAT3 axis suppresses IL-17 production and alloreactivity by Th17 cells. Here, we show that pSTAT3 Y705 is increased significantly in CD4(+) T cells among human recipients of allogeneic HCT before the onset of Grade II-IV acute GVHD. Examination of target-organ tissues at the time of GVHD diagnosis indicates that the amount of RORγt + Th17 cells is significantly higher in severe GVHD. Greater accumulation of tissue-resident Th17 cells also correlates with the use of MTX- compared with Rapa-based GVHD prophylaxis, as well as a poor therapeutic response to glucocorticoids. RORγt is optimally suppressed by concurrent neutralization of TORC1 with Rapa and inhibition of STAT3 activation with S3I-201, supporting that mTOR- and STAT3-dependent pathways converge upon RORγt gene expression. Rapa-resistant T cell proliferation can be totally inhibited by STAT3 blockade during initial allosensitization. We conclude that STAT3 signaling and resultant Th17 tissue accumulation are closely associated with acute GVHD onset, severity, and treatment outcome. Future studies are needed to validate the association of STAT3 activity in acute GVHD. Novel GVHD prevention strategies that incorporate dual STAT3 and mTOR inhibition merit investigation.

Li G, Shan C, Liu L, et al.
Tanshinone IIA inhibits HIF-1α and VEGF expression in breast cancer cells via mTOR/p70S6K/RPS6/4E-BP1 signaling pathway.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(2):e0117440 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2016 Related Publications
Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) play important roles in angiogenesis and tumor growth. Tanshinone IIA (T2A) is a novel antiangiogenic agent with promising antitumor effects; however, the molecular mechanism underlying the antiangiogenic effects of T2A remains unclear. In the present study, we provided evidence showing that T2A inhibited angiogenesis and breast cancer growth by down-regulating VEGF expression. Specifically, T2A repressed HIF-1α expression at the translational level and inhibited the transcriptional activity of HIF-1α, which led to the down-regulation of VEGF expression. Suppression of HIF-1α synthesis by T2A correlated with strong dephosphorylation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and its effectors ribosomal protein S6 kinase (p70S6K) and eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein-1 (4E-BP1), a pathway regulating HIF-1α expression at the translational level. In addition, we also found that T2A inhibited the angiogenesis and growth of human breast cancer xenografts in nude mice through suppression of HIF-1α and VEGF. Our study provides novel perspectives and potential targets for the treatment of human breast cancer.

Schuster S, Penke M, Gorski T, et al.
FK866-induced NAMPT inhibition activates AMPK and downregulates mTOR signaling in hepatocarcinoma cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2015; 458(2):334-40 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) is the key enzyme of the NAD salvage pathway starting from nicotinamide. Cancer cells have an increased demand for NAD due to their high proliferation and DNA repair rate. Consequently, NAMPT is considered as a putative target for anti-cancer therapies. There is evidence that AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) become dysregulated during the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here, we investigated the effects of NAMPT inhibition by its specific inhibitor FK866 on the viability of hepatocarcinoma cells and analyzed the effects of FK866 on the nutrient sensor AMPK and mTOR complex1 (mTORC1) signaling.
RESULTS: FK866 markedly decreased NAMPT activity and NAD content in hepatocarcinoma cells (Huh7 cells, Hep3B cells) and led to delayed ATP reduction which was associated with increased cell death. These effects could be abrogated by administration of nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), the enzyme product of NAMPT. Our results demonstrated a dysregulation of the AMPK/mTOR pathway in hepatocarcinoma cells compared to non-cancerous hepatocytes with a higher expression of mTOR and a lower AMPKα activation in hepatocarcinoma cells. We found that NAMPT inhibition by FK866 significantly activated AMPKα and inhibited the activation of mTOR and its downstream targets p70S6 kinase and 4E-BP1 in hepatocarcinoma cells. Non-cancerous hepatocytes were less sensitive to FK866 and did not show changes in AMPK/mTOR signaling after FK866 treatment.
CONCLUSION: Taken together, these findings reveal an important role of the NAMPT-mediated NAD salvage pathway in the energy homeostasis of hepatocarcinoma cells and suggest NAMPT inhibition as a potential treatment option for HCC.

Niu F, Li Y, Lai FF, et al.
LB-1 Exerts Antitumor Activity in Pancreatic Cancer by Inhibiting HIF-1α and Stat3 Signaling.
J Cell Physiol. 2015; 230(9):2212-23 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hypoxia is widely present in pancreatic cancer and subsequently causes the overexpression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (Stat3). HIF-1α and Stat3 function cooperatively to regulate a number of downstream genes that are implicated in tumorigenesis. Thus, inhibition of HIF-1α and Stat3 is a potential therapeutic strategy for pancreatic cancer. In this study, we explored how LB-1, a novel triptolide (LA) derivative, exerted its antitumor effect through blockade of HIF-1α and Stat3 signaling. Our data showed that LB-1 was able to inhibit the proliferation and colony formation of Mia-PaCa2 and SW1990 cells. LB-1 suppressed HIF-1α protein accumulation by promoting its proteasome degradation and reducing transactivation. Moreover, the silence of HIF-1α by shRNA partially prevented the proliferation inhibition triggered by LB-1. As expected, LB-1 also decreased Stat3 protein accumulation and blocked the physical interactions between HIF-1α/p300/phosphor-Stat3 (p-Stat3) at the pharmacological concentration to reduce VEGF expression, thereby hypoxia-induced angiogenesis. In the Mia-PaCa2 nude xenograft model, therapeutic treatment with LB-1 significantly inhibited tumor growth and had minimal systemic toxicity compared to the mother drug LA. Furthermore, in accordance with in vitro results, HIF-1α activation and Stat3 expression in tumors were blocked by LB-1 through mTOR-dependent pathway. Taken together, these results illustrate that, as a potent inhibitor of HIF-1α and Stat3 signaling, LB-1 exhibits antitumor effect and could be potentially used to treat pancreatic cancer.

Yacqub-Usman K, Pickard MR, Williams GT
Reciprocal regulation of GAS5 lncRNA levels and mTOR inhibitor action in prostate cancer cells.
Prostate. 2015; 75(7):693-705 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: New therapies are required for castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), and growth-arrest specific 5 (GAS5) lncRNA, which riborepresses androgen receptor action, may offer novel opportunities in this regard. This lncRNA promotes the apoptosis of prostate cancer cells and its levels decline as prostate cancer cells acquire castrate-resistance, so that enhancing GAS5 expression may improve the effectiveness of chemotherapies. Since GAS5 is a member of the 5' terminal oligopyrimidine gene family, we have examined mTOR inhibition as a strategy to increase GAS5 expression. Furthermore, we have determined if GAS5 itself mediates the action of mTOR inhibitors, as demonstrated for other chemotherapeutic agents in prostate cancer cells.
METHODS: The effects of mTOR inhibitors on GAS5 lncRNA levels and cell growth were determined in a range of prostate cancer cell lines. Transfection of cells with GAS5 siRNAs and plasmid constructs was performed to determine the involvement of GAS5 lncRNA in mTOR inhibitor action.
RESULTS: First generation mTORC1, combined mTORC1/mTORC2 and dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitors all increased cellular GAS5 levels and inhibited culture growth in androgen-dependent (LNCaP) and androgen-sensitive (22Rv1) cell lines, but not in androgen-independent (PC-3 and DU 145) cell lines. The latter exhibited low endogenous GAS5 expression, and GAS5 silencing in LNCaP and 22Rv1 cells decreased the sensitivity to mTOR inhibitors, whereas transfection of GAS5 lncRNA sensitized PC-3 and DU 145 cells to these agents.
CONCLUSION: mTOR inhibition enhances GAS5 transcript levels in certain prostate cancer cell lines. This selectivity is likely to be related to endogenous GAS5 expression levels, since GAS5 lncRNA is itself required for mTOR inhibitor action in prostate cancer cells.

Shinohara H, Taniguchi K, Kumazaki M, et al.
Anti-cancer fatty-acid derivative induces autophagic cell death through modulation of PKM isoform expression profile mediated by bcr-abl in chronic myeloid leukemia.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 360(1):28-38 [PubMed] Related Publications
The fusion gene bcr-abl develops chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), and stimulates PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling, leading to impaired autophagy. PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling also plays an important role in cell metabolism. The Warburg effect is a well-recognized hallmark of cancer energy metabolism, and is regulated by the mTOR/c-Myc/hnRNP/PKM signaling cascade. To develop a new strategy for the treatment of CML, we investigated the associations among bcr-abl, the cascade related to cancer energy metabolism, and autophagy induced by a fatty-acid derivative that we had previously reported as being an autophagy inducer. Here we report that a fatty-acid derivative, AIC-47, induced transcriptional repression of the bcr-abl gene and modulated the expression profile of PKM isoforms, resulting in autophagic cell death. We show that c-Myc functioned as a transcriptional activator of bcr-abl, and regulated the hnRNP/PKM cascade. AIC-47, acting through the PPARγ/β-catenin pathway, induced down-regulation of c-Myc, leading to the disruption of the bcr-abl/mTOR/hnRNP signaling pathway, and switching of the expression of PKM2 to PKM1. This switching caused autophagic cell death through an increase in the ROS level. Our findings suggest that AIC-47 induced autophagic cell death through the PPARγ/β-catenin/bcr-abl/mTOR/hnRNP/PKM cascade.

Slomovitz BM, Jiang Y, Yates MS, et al.
Phase II study of everolimus and letrozole in patients with recurrent endometrial carcinoma.
J Clin Oncol. 2015; 33(8):930-6 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 10/03/2016 Related Publications
PURPOSE: The phosphoinositol-3 kinase (PI3K) pathway is frequently dysregulated in endometrial cancer (EC). Hormonal manipulation leads to response in some patients with EC, but resistance derived from PI3K pathway activation has been documented. Targeting mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) may overcome endocrine resistance. We conducted a two-institution phase II trial of everolimus and letrozole in women with recurrent EC.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients were considered incurable, had measurable disease, and were treated with up to two prior cytotoxic regimens. Everolimus was administered orally at 10 mg daily and letrozole was administered orally at 2.5 mg daily. Each cycle consisted of 4 weeks of therapy. Patients were treated until progression, toxicity, or complete response (CR). The primary end point was the clinical benefit rate (CBR), which was defined as CR, partial response, or stable disease (≥ 16 weeks) by RECIST 1.0 criteria. Translational studies were performed to correlate biomarkers with response.
RESULTS: Thirty-eight patients were enrolled (median age, 62 years; range, 24 to 82 years). Thirty-five patients were evaluable for response. The CBR was 40% (14 of 35 patients); the median number of cycles among responders was 15 (range, seven to 29 cycles). The confirmed objective response rate (RR) was 32% (11 of 35 patients; nine CRs and two partial responses; median, 15 cycles; range, eight to 29 cycles). Twenty percent of patients (seven of 35 patients) were taken off treatment after a prolonged CR and at the discretion of the treating clinician. None of the patients discontinued treatment as a result of toxicity. Serous histology was the best predictor of lack of response. Patients with endometrioid histology and CTNNB1 mutations responded well to everolimus and letrozole.
CONCLUSION: Everolimus plus letrozole results in a high CBR and RR in patients with recurrent EC. Further development of this combination in recurrent endometrioid EC is under way.

Nisimova L, Wen S, Cross-Knorr S, et al.
Role of Raf kinase inhibitor protein in Helicobacter pylori-mediated signaling in gastric cancer.
Crit Rev Oncog. 2014; 19(6):469-81 [PubMed] Related Publications
Helicobacter pylori is a helical bacterium that colonizes the stomach in over half of the world's population. Infection with this bacterium has been linked to peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer. The bacterium has been shown to affect regulatory pathways in its host cells through specific virulence factors that control gene expression. Infection with H. pylori increases levels of phosphorylation of Raf kinase inhibitor protein (pRKIP) in gastric adenocarcinoma (AGS) cells in vitro and in vivo. We investigated the role of H. pylori in the phosphorylation of RKIP as a possible mechanism to downregulate pro-survival signals in gastric adenocarcinoma. pRKIP induces RKIP transcriptional activity, which serves to induce apoptosis of damaged cells to prevent further tumorigenesis. Infection of wild type and RKIP knockout mice with H. pylori for 2 months further confirmed roles of RKIP and pRKIP in the prevention of gastric cancer progression. Loss of RKIP in AGS cells results in increased expression of the Cag A virulence factor after H. pylori infection and RKIP overexpression inhibits H. pylori-mediated STAT3 phosphorylation and STAT3 and NF-κB transcriptional activity. We examined the role of mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) after H. pylori infection on the phosphorylation of RKIP. Cells treated with rapamycin, an inhibitor of mTOR, displayed less expression of pRKIP after H. pylori infection. Microarray antibody analysis was conducted on wild-type and RKIP-knockdown AGS cells and showed that in the absence of RKIP, there was increased expression of pro-tumorigenic proteins such as EGFR, Raf-1, and MAPKs. Although further work is needed to confirm the interaction of RKIP and mTOR in AGS cells as a result of H. pylori infection, we hypothesize that H. pylori-mediated induction of pro-survival signaling in gastric epithelial cells induces a feedback response through the activation of RKIP. The phosphorylated, or active, form of RKIP is important in protecting gastric epithelial cells from tumorigenesis after H. pylori infection.

Yamaguchi T, Mukai H, Yamashita S, et al.
Comprehensive DNA Methylation and Extensive Mutation Analyses of HER2-Positive Breast Cancer.
Oncology. 2015; 88(6):377-84 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Resistance to trastuzumab is a problem that remains to be solved in HER2-positive breast cancer. We aimed to characterize profiles of genetic and epigenetic alterations in cancer-related pathways in HER2-positive breast cancers, using biopsy tissue samples obtained from patients enrolled in a prospective neoadjuvant clinical trial.
METHODS: HER2-positive breast cancer tissue samples were collected and processed with the PAXgene Tissue System. A total of 24 breast cancers were analyzed. Genetic alterations of 409 cancer-related genes were analyzed by a bench-top next-generation sequencer. DNA methylation statuses were analyzed by a bead array with 485,512 probes.
RESULTS: The WNT pathway was potentially activated by aberrant methylation of its negative regulators, such as DKK3 and SFRP1, in 9 breast cancers. The AKT/mTOR pathway was activated by mutations of PIK3CA in 5 breast cancers. The Notch pathway was potentially activated by mutations of NOTCH1 and NOTCH2 in 4 breast cancers. The p53 pathway was inactivated by mutations of TP53 in 13 breast cancers and potentially by aberrant methylation of its downstream genes in 10 breast cancers. Cell adhesion was affected by mutations of CDH1 in 1 breast cancer.
CONCLUSION: Genes involved in cancer-related pathways were frequently affected not only by genetic but also by epigenetic alterations in HER2-positive breast cancer.

Zha X, Hu Z, Ji S, et al.
NFκB up-regulation of glucose transporter 3 is essential for hyperactive mammalian target of rapamycin-induced aerobic glycolysis and tumor growth.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 359(1):97-106 [PubMed] Related Publications
Accumulating evidence indicates that mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) exerts a crucial role in aerobic glycolysis and tumorigenesis, but the underlying mechanisms remain largely obscure. Results from Tsc1- or Tsc2-null mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) and human cancer cell lines consistently indicate that the expression of glucose transporter 3 (Glut3) is dramatically up-regulated by mTOR. The rapamycin-sensitive mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), but not the rapamycin-insensitive mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2), was involved in the regulation of Glut3 expression. Moreover, mTORC1 enhances Glut3 expression through the activation of the IKK/NFκB pathway. Depletion of Glut3 led to the suppression of aerobic glycolysis, the inhibition of cell proliferation and colony formation, and the attenuation of the tumorigenic potential of the cells with aberrantly hyper-activated mTORC1 signaling in nude mice. We conclude that Glut3 is a downstream target of mTORC1, and it is critical for oncogenic mTORC1-mediated aerobic glycolysis and tumorigenesis. Hence Glut3 may be a potential target for therapy against cancers caused by the aberrantly activated mTORC1 signaling.

Kim J, Jeong D, Nam J, et al.
MicroRNA-124 regulates glucocorticoid sensitivity by targeting phosphodiesterase 4B in diffuse large B cell lymphoma.
Gene. 2015; 558(1):173-80 [PubMed] Related Publications
Glucocorticoids (GCs) are chemotherapeutic drugs commonly used to treat hematological malignancies. However, a significant fraction of patients develop resistance to GCs during treatment. A better insight into how GC resistance develops is therefore needed. It was previously shown that cyclic AMP (cAMP) induces sensitivity to GCs by inhibiting the AKT/mTOR/MCL1 signaling, while high levels of phosphodiesterase 4B (PDE4B) reverse the effect of cAMP on GC responses in B-cell lymphoma. Here, we show that miR-124 influences GC-induced apoptosis by directly targeting PDE4B. Stable expression of miR-124 in diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) cell lines diminished PDE4B expression. This was associated with increased cAMP levels, inhibition of the AKT/mTOR/MCL1 survival pathway, upregulation of GRα expression, and improved sensitivity to GCs in the presence of forskolin, an activator of adenylyl cyclase. Interestingly, miR-124 did not affect GC sensitivity in the absence of forskolin, indicating that the effect of this miRNA is accomplished via downregulation of PDE4B expression. Further, restoration of PDE4B expression in miR-124 cells rescued the phenotypic effect of this miRNA, demonstrating the critical role of PDE4B in miR-124-mediated regulation of the GC response. Our study supports the notion that miR-124 could be an attractive therapeutic target for overcoming GC resistance in DLBCL.

Schwartz-Roberts JL, Cook KL, Chen C, et al.
Interferon regulatory factor-1 signaling regulates the switch between autophagy and apoptosis to determine breast cancer cell fate.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(6):1046-55 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/03/2016 Related Publications
Interferon regulatory factor-1 (IRF1) is a tumor suppressor that regulates cell fate in several cell types. Here, we report an inverse correlation in expression of nuclear IRF1 and the autophagy regulator ATG7 in human breast cancer cells that directly affects their cell fate. In mice harboring mutant Atg7, nuclear IRF1 was increased in mammary tumors, spleen, and kidney. Mechanistic investigations identified ATG7 and the cell death modulator beclin-1 (BECN1) as negative regulators of IRF1. Silencing ATG7 or BECN1 caused estrogen receptor-α to exit the nucleus at the time when IRF1 nuclear localization occurred. Conversely, silencing IRF1 promoted autophagy by increasing BECN1 and blunting IGF1 receptor and mTOR survival signaling. Loss of IRF1 promoted resistance to antiestrogens, whereas combined silencing of ATG7 and IRF1 restored sensitivity to these agents. Using a mathematical model to prompt signaling hypotheses, we developed evidence that ATG7 silencing could resensitize IRF1-attenuated cells to apoptosis through mechanisms that involve other estrogen-regulated genes. Overall, our work shows how inhibiting the autophagy proteins ATG7 and BECN1 can regulate IRF1-dependent and -independent signaling pathways in ways that engender a new therapeutic strategy to attack breast cancer.

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