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Background - Rictor is an essential component of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 2 (mTORC2), a conserved serine/threonine kinase that may play a role in cell proliferation, survival and innate or adaptive immune responses. Genetic loss of inactivates mTORC2, which directly activates Akt S phosphorylation and promotes pro-survival cell signaling and proliferation.
Methods and results - To study the role of mTORC2 signaling in monocytes and macrophages, we generated mice with myeloid lineage-specific deletion (M). These M mice exhibited dramatic reductions of white blood cells, B-cells, T-cells, and monocytes but had similar levels of neutrophils compared to control flox-flox () mice. M bone marrow monocytes and peritoneal macrophages expressed reduced levels of mTORC2 signaling and decreased Akt S phosphorylation, and they displayed significantly less proliferation than control cells. In addition, blood monocytes and peritoneal macrophages isolated from M mice were significantly more sensitive to pro-apoptotic stimuli. In response to LPS, M macrophages exhibited the M1 phenotype with higher levels of pro-inflammatory gene expression and lower levels of gene expression than control cells. Further suppression of LPS-stimulated Akt signaling with a low dose of an Akt inhibitor, increased inflammatory gene expression in macrophages, but genetic inactivation of reversed this rise, indicating that mTORC1 mediates this increase of inflammatory gene expression. Next, to elucidate whether mTORC2 has an impact on atherosclerosis , female and male null mice were reconstituted with bone marrow from M or mice. After 10 weeks of the Western diet, there were no differences between the recipients of the same gender in body weight, blood glucose or plasma lipid levels. However, both female and male M → mice developed smaller atherosclerotic lesions in the distal and proximal aorta. These lesions contained less macrophage area and more apoptosis than lesions of control → mice. Thus, loss of and, consequently, mTORC2 significantly compromised monocyte/macrophage survival, and this markedly diminished early atherosclerosis in mice.
Conclusion - Our results demonstrate that mTORC2 is a key signaling regulator of macrophage survival and its depletion suppresses early atherosclerosis.
Small-molecule inhibitors of the mTORC2 kinase (torkinibs) have shown efficacy in early clinical trials. However, the torkinibs under study also inhibit the other mTOR-containing complex mTORC1. While mTORC1/mTORC2 combined inhibition may be beneficial in cancer cells, recent reports describe compensatory cell survival upon mTORC1 inhibition due to loss of negative feedback on PI3K, increased autophagy, and increased macropinocytosis. Genetic models suggest that selective mTORC2 inhibition would be effective in breast cancers, but the lack of selective small-molecule inhibitors of mTORC2 have precluded testing of this hypothesis to date. Here we report the engineering of a nanoparticle-based RNAi therapeutic that can effectively silence the mTORC2 obligate cofactor Rictor. Nanoparticle-based Rictor ablation in HER2-amplified breast tumors was achieved following intratumoral and intravenous delivery, decreasing Akt phosphorylation and increasing tumor cell killing. Selective mTORC2 inhibition , combined with the HER2 inhibitor lapatinib, decreased the growth of HER2-amplified breast cancers to a greater extent than either agent alone, suggesting that mTORC2 promotes lapatinib resistance, but is overcome by mTORC2 inhibition. Importantly, selective mTORC2 inhibition was effective in a triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) model, decreasing Akt phosphorylation and tumor growth, consistent with our findings that RICTOR mRNA correlates with worse outcome in patients with basal-like TNBC. Together, our results offer preclinical validation of a novel RNAi delivery platform for therapeutic gene ablation in breast cancer, and they show that mTORC2-selective targeting is feasible and efficacious in this disease setting. This study describes a nanomedicine to effectively inhibit the growth regulatory kinase mTORC2 in a preclinical model of breast cancer, targeting an important pathogenic enzyme in that setting that has been undruggable to date. .
©2018 American Association for Cancer Research.
Myelin abnormalities are increasingly being recognized as an important component of a number of neurologic developmental disorders. The integration of many signaling pathways and cell types are critical for correct myelinogenesis. The PI3-K and mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways have been found to play key roles. mTOR is found within two distinct complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2. mTORC1 activity has been shown to play a major role during myelination, while the role of mTORC2 is not yet well understood. To determine the role of mTORC2 signaling in myelinogenesis, we generated a mouse lacking the critical mTORC2 component Rictor in oligodendrocyte precursors (OPCs). Targeted deletion of Rictor in these cells decreases and delays the expression of myelin related proteins and reduces the size of cerebral white matter tracts. This is developmentally manifest as a transient reduction in myelinated axon density and g-ratio. OPC cell number is reduced at birth without detectable change in proliferation with proportional reductions in mature oligodendrocyte number at P15. The total number of oligodendrocytes as well as extent of myelination, does improve over time. Adult conditional knock-out (CKO) animals do not demonstrate a behavioral phenotype likely due in part to preserved axonal conduction velocities. These data support and extend prior studies demonstrating an important but transient contribution of mTORC2 signaling to myelin development.
BACKGROUND - The importance of the mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2) signaling complex in tumor progression is becoming increasingly recognized. HER2-amplified breast cancers use Rictor/mTORC2 signaling to drive tumor formation, tumor cell survival and resistance to human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-targeted therapy. Cell motility, a key step in the metastatic process, can be activated by mTORC2 in luminal and triple negative breast cancer cell lines, but its role in promoting metastases from HER2-amplified breast cancers is not yet clear.
METHODS - Because Rictor is an obligate cofactor of mTORC2, we genetically engineered Rictor ablation or overexpression in mouse and human HER2-amplified breast cancer models for modulation of mTORC2 activity. Signaling through mTORC2-dependent pathways was also manipulated using pharmacological inhibitors of mTOR, Akt, and Rac. Signaling was assessed by western analysis and biochemical pull-down assays specific for Rac-GTP and for active Rac guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs). Metastases were assessed from spontaneous tumors and from intravenously delivered tumor cells. Motility and invasion of cells was assessed using Matrigel-coated transwell assays.
RESULTS - We found that Rictor ablation potently impaired, while Rictor overexpression increased, metastasis in spontaneous and intravenously seeded models of HER2-overexpressing breast cancers. Additionally, migration and invasion of HER2-amplified human breast cancer cells was diminished in the absence of Rictor, or upon pharmacological mTOR kinase inhibition. Active Rac1 was required for Rictor-dependent invasion and motility, which rescued invasion/motility in Rictor depleted cells. Rictor/mTORC2-dependent dampening of the endogenous Rac1 inhibitor RhoGDI2, a factor that correlated directly with increased overall survival in HER2-amplified breast cancer patients, promoted Rac1 activity and tumor cell invasion/migration. The mTORC2 substrate Akt did not affect RhoGDI2 dampening, but partially increased Rac1 activity through the Rac-GEF Tiam1, thus partially rescuing cell invasion/motility. The mTORC2 effector protein kinase C (PKC)α did rescue Rictor-mediated RhoGDI2 downregulation, partially rescuing Rac-guanosine triphosphate (GTP) and migration/motility.
CONCLUSION - These findings suggest that mTORC2 uses two coordinated pathways to activate cell invasion/motility, both of which converge on Rac1. Akt signaling activates Rac1 through the Rac-GEF Tiam1, while PKC signaling dampens expression of the endogenous Rac1 inhibitor, RhoGDI2.
How metabolic pathways required for epidermal tissue growth and remodeling influence the ability of keratinocytes to survive stressful conditions is still largely unknown. The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2) regulates growth and metabolism of several tissues, but its functions in epidermal cells are poorly defined. Rictor is an adaptor protein essential for mTORC2 activity. To explore the roles of mTORC2 in the epidermis, we have conditionally deleted rictor in mice via K14-Cre-mediated homologous recombination and found that its deficiency causes moderate tissue hypoplasia, reduced keratinocyte proliferation and attenuated hyperplastic response to TPA. Noteworthy, rictor-deficient keratinocytes displayed increased lifespan, protection from senescence, and enhanced tolerance to cellular stressors such as growth factors deprivation, epirubicin and X-ray in vitro and radioresistance in vivo. Rictor-deficient keratinocytes exhibited changes in global gene expression profiles consistent with metabolic alterations and enhanced stress tolerance, a shift in cell catabolic processes from glycids and lipids to glutamine consumption and increased production of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS). Mechanistically, the resiliency of rictor-deficient epidermal cells relies on these ROS increases, indicating stress resistance via mitohormesis. Thus, our findings reveal a new link between metabolic changes and stress adaptation of keratinocytes centered on mTORC2 activity, with potential implications in skin aging and therapeutic resistance of epithelial tumors.
HER2 overexpression drives Akt signaling and cell survival and HER2-enriched breast tumors have a poor outcome when Akt is upregulated. Akt is activated by phosphorylation at T308 via PI3K and S473 via mTORC2. The importance of PI3K-activated Akt signaling is well documented in HER2-amplified breast cancer models, but the significance of mTORC2-activated Akt signaling in this setting remains uncertain. We report here that the mTORC2 obligate cofactor Rictor is enriched in HER2-amplified samples, correlating with increased phosphorylation at S473 on Akt. In invasive breast cancer specimens, Rictor expression was upregulated significantly compared with nonmalignant tissues. In a HER2/Neu mouse model of breast cancer, genetic ablation of Rictor decreased cell survival and phosphorylation at S473 on Akt, delaying tumor latency, penetrance, and burden. In HER2-amplified cells, exposure to an mTORC1/2 dual kinase inhibitor decreased Akt-dependent cell survival, including in cells resistant to lapatinib, where cytotoxicity could be restored. We replicated these findings by silencing Rictor in breast cancer cell lines, but not silencing the mTORC1 cofactor Raptor (RPTOR). Taken together, our findings establish that Rictor/mTORC2 signaling drives Akt-dependent tumor progression in HER2-amplified breast cancers, rationalizing clinical investigation of dual mTORC1/2 kinase inhibitors and developing mTORC2-specific inhibitors for use in this setting. Cancer Res; 76(16); 4752-64. ©2016 AACR.
©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), diffusion kurtosis imaging (DKI), and DKI-derived white matter tract integrity metrics (WMTI) were experimentally evaluated ex vivo through comparisons to histological measurements and established magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures of myelin in two knockout mouse models with varying degrees of hypomyelination. DKI metrics of mean and radial kurtosis were found to be better indicators of myelin content than conventional DTI metrics. The biophysical WMTI model based on the DKI framework reported on axon water fraction with good accuracy in cases with near normal axon density, but did not provide additional specificity to myelination. Overall, DKI provided additional information regarding white matter microstructure compared with DTI, making it an attractive method for future assessments of white matter development and pathology.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Akt phosphorylation is a major driver of cell survival, motility, and proliferation in development and disease, causing increased interest in upstream regulators of Akt like mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2). We used genetic disruption of Rictor to impair mTORC2 activity in mouse mammary epithelia, which decreased Akt phosphorylation, ductal length, secondary branching, cell motility, and cell survival. These effects were recapitulated with a pharmacological dual inhibitor of mTORC1/mTORC2, but not upon genetic disruption of mTORC1 function via Raptor deletion. Surprisingly, Akt re-activation was not sufficient to rescue cell survival or invasion, and modestly increased branching of mTORC2-impaired mammary epithelial cells (MECs) in culture and in vivo. However, another mTORC2 substrate, protein kinase C (PKC)-alpha, fully rescued mTORC2-impaired MEC branching, invasion, and survival, as well as branching morphogenesis in vivo. PKC-alpha-mediated signaling through the small GTPase Rac1 was necessary for mTORC2-dependent mammary epithelial development during puberty, revealing a novel role for Rictor/mTORC2 in MEC survival and motility during branching morphogenesis through a PKC-alpha/Rac1-dependent mechanism.
Disrupted neuronal protein kinase B (Akt) signaling has been associated with dopamine (DA)-related neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, a devastating mental illness. We hypothesize that proper DA neurotransmission is therefore dependent upon intact neuronal Akt function. Akt is activated by phosphorylation of two key residues: Thr308 and Ser473. Blunted Akt phosphorylation at Ser473 (pAkt-473) has been observed in lymphocytes and postmortem brains of schizophrenia patients, and psychosis-prone normal individuals. Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 2 (mTORC2) is a multiprotein complex that is responsible for phosphorylation of Akt at Ser473 (pAkt-473). We demonstrate that mice with disrupted mTORC2 signaling in brain exhibit altered striatal DA-dependent behaviors, such as increased basal locomotion, stereotypic counts, and exaggerated response to the psychomotor effects of amphetamine (AMPH). Combining in vivo and ex vivo pharmacological, electrophysiological, and biochemical techniques, we demonstrate that the changes in striatal DA neurotransmission and associated behaviors are caused, at least in part, by elevated D2 DA receptor (D2R) expression and upregulated ERK1/2 activation. Haloperidol, a typical antipsychotic and D2R blocker, reduced AMPH hypersensitivity and elevated pERK1/2 to the levels of control animals. By viral gene delivery, we downregulated mTORC2 solely in the dorsal striatum of adult wild-type mice, demonstrating that striatal mTORC2 regulates AMPH-stimulated behaviors. Our findings implicate mTORC2 signaling as a novel pathway regulating striatal DA tone and D2R signaling.
Copyright © 2015 the authors 0270-6474/15/358843-12$15.00/0.
The mTOR and Hippo pathways have recently emerged as the major signaling transduction cascades regulating organ size and cellular homeostasis. However, direct crosstalk between two pathways is yet to be determined. Here, we demonstrate that mTORC2 is a direct negative regulator of the MST1 kinase, a key component of the Hippo pathway. mTORC2 phosphorylates MST1 at serine 438 in the SARAH domain, thereby reducing its homodimerization and activity. We found that Rictor/mTORC2 preserves cardiac structure and function by restraining the activity of MST1 kinase. Cardiac-specific mTORC2 disruption through Rictor deletion leads to a marked activation of MST1 that, in turn, promotes cardiac dysfunction and dilation, impairing cardiac growth and adaptation in response to pressure overload. In conclusion, our study demonstrates the existence of a direct crosstalk between mTORC2 and MST1 that is critical for cardiac cell survival and growth.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.