The process of cell growth depends on a complex co-ordinated programme of macromolecular synthesis that can be tuned to environmental constraints. In eukaryotes, the mTOR [mammalian (or mechanistic) target of rapamycin] signalling pathway is a master regulator of this process, in part by regulating mRNA translation through control of the eIF4F (eukaryotic initiation factor 4F) initiation complex. The present review discusses the role of this relationship in mTOR-regulated gene expression, and its contribution to phenotypes associated with deregulated mTOR signalling, such as cancer.
mTOR is a highly conserved serine/threonine protein kinase that serves as a central regulator of cell growth, survival, and autophagy. Deregulation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling pathway occurs commonly in cancer and numerous inhibitors targeting the ATP-binding site of these kinases are currently undergoing clinical evaluation. Here, we report the characterization of Torin2, a second-generation ATP-competitive inhibitor that is potent and selective for mTOR with a superior pharmacokinetic profile to previous inhibitors. Torin2 inhibited mTORC1-dependent T389 phosphorylation on S6K (RPS6KB1) with an EC(50) of 250 pmol/L with approximately 800-fold selectivity for cellular mTOR versus phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K). Torin2 also exhibited potent biochemical and cellular activity against phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase-like kinase (PIKK) family kinases including ATM (EC(50), 28 nmol/L), ATR (EC(50), 35 nmol/L), and DNA-PK (EC(50), 118 nmol/L; PRKDC), the inhibition of which sensitized cells to Irradiation. Similar to the earlier generation compound Torin1 and in contrast to other reported mTOR inhibitors, Torin2 inhibited mTOR kinase and mTORC1 signaling activities in a sustained manner suggestive of a slow dissociation from the kinase. Cancer cell treatment with Torin2 for 24 hours resulted in a prolonged block in negative feedback and consequent T308 phosphorylation on Akt. These effects were associated with strong growth inhibition in vitro. Single-agent treatment with Torin2 in vivo did not yield significant efficacy against KRAS-driven lung tumors, but the combination of Torin2 with mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MEK) inhibitor AZD6244 yielded a significant growth inhibition. Taken together, our findings establish Torin2 as a strong candidate for clinical evaluation in a broad number of oncologic settings where mTOR signaling has a pathogenic role.
The mTOR mediated PI3K/AKT/mTOR signal transduction pathway has been demonstrated to play a key role in a broad spectrum of cancers. Starting from the mTOR selective inhibitor 1 (Torin1), a focused medicinal chemistry effort led to the discovery of an improved mTOR inhibitor 3 (Torin2), which possesses an EC(50) of 0.25 nM for inhibiting cellular mTOR activity. Compound 3 exhibited 800-fold selectivity over PI3K (EC(50): 200 nM) and over 100-fold binding selectivity relative to 440 other protein kinases. Compound 3 has significantly improved bioavailability (54%), metabolic stability, and plasma exposure relative to compound 1.
Starting from small molecule mTOR inhibitor Torin1, replacement of the piperazine ring with a phenyl ring resulted in a new series of mTOR inhibitors (as exemplified by 10) that showed superior potency and selectivity for mTOR, along with significantly improved mouse liver microsome stability and a longer in vivo half-life.
The evolutionarily conserved target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1) controls cell growth in response to nutrient availability and growth factors. TORC1 signaling is hyperactive in cancer, and regulators of TORC1 signaling may represent therapeutic targets for human diseases. To identify novel regulators of TORC1 signaling, we performed a genome-scale RNA interference screen on microarrays of Drosophila melanogaster cells expressing human RPS6, a TORC1 effector whose phosphorylated form we detected by immunofluorescence. Our screen revealed that the TORC1-S6K-RPS6 signaling axis is regulated by many subcellular components, including the Class I vesicle coat (COPI), the spliceosome, the proteasome, the nuclear pore, and the translation initiation machinery. Using additional RNAi reagents, we confirmed 70 novel genes as significant on-target regulators of RPS6 phosphorylation, and we characterized them with extensive secondary assays probing various arms of the TORC1 pathways, identifying functional relationships among those genes. We conclude that cell-based microarrays are a useful platform for genome-scale and secondary screening in Drosophila, revealing regulators that may represent drug targets for cancers and other diseases of deregulated TORC1 signaling.
The mTOR protein is a master regulator of cell growth and proliferation, and inhibitors of its kinase activity have the potential to become new class of anticancer drugs. Starting from quinoline 1, which was identified in a biochemical mTOR assay, we developed a tricyclic benzonaphthyridinone inhibitor 37 (Torin1), which inhibited phosphorylation of mTORC1 and mTORC2 substrates in cells at concentrations of 2 and 10 nM, respectively. Moreover, Torin1 exhibits 1000-fold selectivity for mTOR over PI3K (EC(50) = 1800 nM) and exhibits 100-fold binding selectivity relative to 450 other protein kinases. Torin1 was efficacious at a dose of 20 mg/kg in a U87MG xenograft model and demonstrated good pharmacodynamic inhibition of downstream effectors of mTOR in tumor and peripheral tissues. These results demonstrate that Torin1 is a useful probe of mTOR-dependent phenomena and that benzonaphthridinones represent a promising scaffold for the further development of mTOR-specific inhibitors with the potential for clinical utility.
Rapamycin is widely used as a complete inhibitor of the mTORC1 nutrient-sensitive signaling complex. Using a novel ATP-competitive inhibitor named Torin1, we have found that many mTORC1 functions that regulate cap-dependent translation and autophagy are resistant to inhibition by rapamycin.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is an evolutionarily conserved serine/threonine kinase and the founding member of a signaling pathway that regulates many fundamental features of cell growth and division. In cells, mTOR acts as the catalytic subunit of two functionally distinct complexes, called mTOR Complex 1 (mTORC1) and mTOR Complex 2 (mTORC2). Together, these complexes coordinate a variety of processes that include protein translation, autophagy, proliferation, survival and metabolism in response to nutrient, energy and growth factor signals. Consistent with its role as a growth-promoting pathway, numerous studies have found that Mtor signaling is hyper-activated in a broad spectrum of human cancers. In particular, mTORC2 is considered a primary effector of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) signaling pathway, which is mutated in a majority of human cancers, in part through its ability to phosphorylate and regulate the proto-oncogene Akt/PKB. Many biological functions of mTOR have been pharmacologically explored using the natural product rapamycin, an allosteric inhibitor that has been reviewed extensively elsewhere. This review will focus specifically on the development of small molecule ATP-competitive inhibitors of mTOR and their prospects as a targeted therapy.
The mTORC1 and mTORC2 pathways regulate cell growth, proliferation, and survival. We identify DEPTOR as an mTOR-interacting protein whose expression is negatively regulated by mTORC1 and mTORC2. Loss of DEPTOR activates S6K1, Akt, and SGK1, promotes cell growth and survival, and activates mTORC1 and mTORC2 kinase activities. DEPTOR overexpression suppresses S6K1 but, by relieving feedback inhibition from mTORC1 to PI3K signaling, activates Akt. Consistent with many human cancers having activated mTORC1 and mTORC2 pathways, DEPTOR expression is low in most cancers. Surprisingly, DEPTOR is highly overexpressed in a subset of multiple myelomas harboring cyclin D1/D3 or c-MAF/MAFB translocations. In these cells, high DEPTOR expression is necessary to maintain PI3K and Akt activation and a reduction in DEPTOR levels leads to apoptosis. Thus, we identify a novel mTOR-interacting protein whose deregulated overexpression in multiple myeloma cells represents a mechanism for activating PI3K/Akt signaling and promoting cell survival.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase is the catalytic subunit of two functionally distinct complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, that coordinately promote cell growth, proliferation, and survival. Rapamycin is a potent allosteric mTORC1 inhibitor with clinical applications as an immunosuppressant and anti-cancer agent. Here we find that Torin1, a highly potent and selective ATP-competitive mTOR inhibitor that directly inhibits both complexes, impairs cell growth and proliferation to a far greater degree than rapamycin. Surprisingly, these effects are independent of mTORC2 inhibition and are instead because of suppression of rapamycin-resistant functions of mTORC1 that are necessary for cap-dependent translation and suppression of autophagy. These effects are at least partly mediated by mTORC1-dependent and rapamycin-resistant phosphorylation of 4E-BP1. Our findings challenge the assumption that rapamycin completely inhibits mTORC1 and indicate that direct inhibitors of mTORC1 kinase activity may be more successful than rapamycin at inhibiting tumors that depend on mTORC1.
The mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) kinase nucleates a pathway that promotes cell growth and proliferation and is the target of rapamycin, a drug with many clinical uses. mTORC1 regulates messenger RNA translation, but the overall translational program is poorly defined and no unifying model exists to explain how mTORC1 differentially controls the translation of specific mRNAs. Here we use high-resolution transcriptome-scale ribosome profiling to monitor translation in mouse cells acutely treated with the mTOR inhibitor Torin 1, which, unlike rapamycin, fully inhibits mTORC1 (ref. 2). Our data reveal a surprisingly simple model of the mRNA features and mechanisms that confer mTORC1-dependent translation control. The subset of mRNAs that are specifically regulated by mTORC1 consists almost entirely of transcripts with established 5 terminal oligopyrimidine (TOP) motifs, or, like Hsp90ab1 and Ybx1, with previously unrecognized TOP or related TOP-like motifs that we identified. We find no evidence to support proposals that mTORC1 preferentially regulates mRNAs with increased 5 untranslated region length or complexity. mTORC1 phosphorylates a myriad of translational regulators, but how it controls TOP mRNA translation is unknown. Remarkably, loss of just the 4E-BP family of translational repressors, arguably the best characterized mTORC1 substrates, is sufficient to render TOP and TOP-like mRNA translation resistant to Torin 1. The 4E-BPs inhibit translation initiation by interfering with the interaction between the cap-binding protein eIF4E and eIF4G1. Loss of this interaction diminishes the capacity of eIF4E to bind TOP and TOP-like mRNAs much more than other mRNAs, explaining why mTOR inhibition selectively suppresses their translation. Our results clarify the translational program controlled by mTORC1 and identify 4E-BPs and eIF4G1 as its master effectors.
An intensive recent effort to develop ATP-competitive mTOR inhibitors has resulted in several potent and selective molecules such as Torin1, PP242, KU63794, and WYE354. These inhibitors are being widely used as pharmacological probes of mTOR-dependent biology. To determine the potency and specificity of these agents, we have undertaken a systematic kinome-wide effort to profile their selectivity and potency using chemical proteomics and assays for enzymatic activity, protein binding, and disruption of cellular signaling. Enzymatic and cellular assays revealed that all four compounds are potent inhibitors of mTORC1 and mTORC2, with Torin1 exhibiting ?20-fold greater potency for inhibition of Thr-389 phosphorylation on S6 kinases (EC(50) = 2 nM) relative to other inhibitors. In vitro biochemical profiling at 10 ?M revealed binding of PP242 to numerous kinases, although WYE354 and KU63794 bound only to p38 kinases and PI3K isoforms and Torin1 to ataxia telangiectasia mutated, ATM and Rad3-related protein, and DNA-PK. Analysis of these protein targets in cellular assays did not reveal any off-target activities for Torin1, WYE354, and KU63794 at concentrations below 1 ?M but did show that PP242 efficiently inhibited the RET receptor (EC(50), 42 nM) and JAK1/2/3 kinases (EC(50), 780 nM). In addition, Torin1 displayed unusually slow kinetics for inhibition of the mTORC1/2 complex, a property likely to contribute to the pharmacology of this inhibitor. Our results demonstrated that, with the exception of PP242, available ATP-competitive compounds are highly selective mTOR inhibitors when applied to cells at concentrations below 1 ?M and that the compounds may represent a starting point for medicinal chemistry efforts aimed at developing inhibitors of other PI3K kinase-related kinases.
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