Activation of mammalian target of rapamycin signaling pathway contributes to tumor cell survival in anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive anaplastic large cell lymphoma

Francisco Vega, L Jeffrey Medeiros, Vasiliki Leventaki, Coralyn Atwell, Jeong Hee Cho-Vega, Ling Tian, Francois-Xavier Claret, George Z Rassidakis
Cancer Research 2006 July 1, 66 (13): 6589-97
Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) frequently carries the t(2;5)(p23;q35) resulting in aberrant expression of chimeric nucleophosmin-ALK. Previously, nucleophosmin-ALK has been shown to activate phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and its downstream effector, the serine/threonine kinase AKT. In this study, we hypothesized that the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, which functions downstream of AKT, mediates the oncogenic effects of activated PI3K/AKT in ALK+ ALCL. Here, we provide evidence that mTOR signaling phosphoproteins, including mTOR, eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein-1, p70S6K, and ribosomal protein S6, are highly phosphorylated in ALK+ ALCL cell lines and tumors. We also show that AKT activation contributes to mTOR phosphorylation, at least in part, as forced expression of constitutively active AKT by myristoylated AKT adenovirus results in increased phosphorylation of mTOR and its downstream effectors. Conversely, inhibition of AKT expression or activity results in decreased mTOR phosphorylation. In addition, pharmacologic inhibition of PI3K/AKT down-regulates the activation of the mTOR signaling pathway. We also show that inhibition of mTOR with rapamycin, as well as silencing mTOR gene product expression using mTOR-specific small interfering RNA, decreased phosphorylation of mTOR signaling proteins and induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in ALK+ ALCL cells. Cell cycle arrest was associated with modulation of G(1)-S-phase regulators, including the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors p21(waf1) and p27(kip1). Apoptosis following inhibition of mTOR expression or function was associated with down-regulation of antiapoptotic proteins, including c-FLIP, MCL-1, and BCL-2. These findings suggest that the mTOR pathway contributes to nucleophosmin-ALK/PI3K/AKT-mediated tumorigenesis and that inhibition of mTOR represents a potential therapeutic strategy in ALK+ ALCL.

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