Morphoproteomic and molecular concomitants of an overexpressed and activated mTOR pathway in renal cell carcinomas

Fan Lin, Ping L Zhang, Ximing J Yang, Jeffrey W Prichard, Mingyue Lun, Robert E Brown
Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science 2006, 36 (3): 283-93
CCI-779 (temsirolimus), an ester of rapamycin and an inhibitor of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), is currently in phase II trials for treatment of patients with solid cancers. The mTOR functions as a checkpoint for cell proliferation, with upstream Akt and downstream p70S6K serving as its most important mediators. The aim of this study was to evaluate the expression and activation of the Akt-mTOR-p70S6K pathway in renal cell carcinoma (RCC), seeking to strengthen the rationale for targeted therapy of RCC using rapamycin or a rapamycin analogue. Tissue microarray sections containing 128 primary RCCs, 22 metastatic RCCs, and 24 non-neoplastic (normal) kidneys (NK) were immunostained with monoclonal antibodies to phosphorylated (p)-Akt (Ser473), p-mTOR (Ser2448), and p-p70S6K (Thr389). Western blotting was performed on 3 cases of clear cell RCC (CRCC) and the corresponding non-neoplastic (normal) renal tissues using the same antibodies. The immunostain scoring system included: (a) location; (b) distribution; and (c) intensity. The normal kidneys provided baseline scores for comparison. Expression of p-Akt, p-mTOR, and p-p70S6K was seen in 100% (n = 24) of NKs and nearly 100% (n = 150) of both primary and metastatic RCCs. The p-p70S6K was located in the nucleus in both NKs and RCCs. The p-Akt was observed in the nucleus and cytoplasm of NKs and in the nucleus and cytoplasm/ membrane (plasmalemma) of RCCs. The p-mTOR was identified in the membrane of NKs and the membrane/nucleus of RCCs. The levels of expression of p-p70S6K, p-mTOR, and p-Akt were significantly higher in RCC than in NK in the overall pattern (intensity and distribution, p <0.05). Western blotting also showed higher expression of p-p70S6K, p-mTOR, and p-Akt in RCCs compared to the corresponding normal kidney tissues (p <0.05). These findings indicate that correlative over-expression and activation of p-Akt, p-mTOR, and p-p70S6K are commonly observed in RCCs. After considering these findings in the context of other established protein circuitries and pathways in RCC, we propose therapeutic approaches that incorporate rapamycin-like agents and other small molecule inhibitors in a combinatorial fashion in future clinical trials for RCC.

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