The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a kinase that regulates proliferation and apoptosis, has been extensively evaluated as a therapeutic target in multiple malignancies. Rapamycin analogs, which partially inhibit mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), exhibit immunosuppressive and limited antitumor activity, but sometimes activate survival pathways through feedback mechanisms involving mTORC2. Thus, attention has turned to agents targeting both mTOR complexes by binding the mTOR active site. Here we show that disruption of either mTOR-containing complex is toxic to acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) cells and identify 2 previously unrecognized pathways leading to this cell death. Inhibition of mTORC1-mediated 4EBP1 phosphorylation leads to decreased expression of c-MYC and subsequent upregulation of the proapoptotic BCL2 family member PUMA, whereas inhibition of mTORC2 results in nuclear factor-κB-mediated expression of the Early Growth Response 1 (EGR1) gene, which encodes a transcription factor that binds and transactivates the proapoptotic BCL2L11 locus encoding BIM. Importantly, 1 or both pathways contribute to death of malignant lymphoid cells after treatment with dual mTORC1/mTORC2 inhibitors. Collectively, these observations not only provide new insight into the survival roles of mTOR in lymphoid malignancies, but also identify alterations that potentially modulate the action of mTOR dual inhibitors in ALL.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology