Research Papers:

Inhibition of mTORC2 component RICTOR impairs tumor growth in pancreatic cancer models

Katharina M. Schmidt, Claus Hellerbrand, Petra Ruemmele, Christoph W. Michalski, Bo Kong, Alexander Kroemer, Christina Hackl, Hans J. Schlitt, Edward K. Geissler and Sven A. Lang _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:24491-24505. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15524

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Katharina M. Schmidt1, Claus Hellerbrand2, Petra Ruemmele3, Christoph W. Michalski4, Bo Kong5, Alexander Kroemer1, Christina Hackl1, Hans J. Schlitt1, Edward K. Geissler1, Sven A. Lang1,6

1Department of Surgery, University Hospital Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany

2Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital Regensburg, Germany

3Department of Pathology, Hospital of Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany

4Department of Surgery, University of Heidelberg, Germany

5Department of Surgery, Technische Universität München (TUM), Munich, Germany

6Department of Surgery, Universität Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany

Correspondence to:

Sven A. Lang, email: [email protected]


Received: September 12, 2016     Accepted: February 06, 2017     Published: February 20, 2017


Mammalian Target of Rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2) and its regulatory component Rapamycin-insensitive companion of mTOR (RICTOR) are increasingly recognized as important players in human cancer development and progression. However, the role of RICTOR in human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is unclear so far. Here, we sought to analyze the effects of RICTOR inhibition in human pancreatic cancer cell lines in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, RICTOR expression was determined in human PDAC samples. Results demonstrate that depletion of RICTOR with siRNA (transient knock-down) or shRNA (stable knock-down) has an inhibitory effect on tumor growth in vitro. Moreover, RICTOR inhibition led to impaired phosphorylation/activity of AGC kinases (AKT, SGK1). Interestingly, hypoxia-induced expression of hypoxia-induced factor-1α (HIF-1α) was diminished and secretion of vascular-endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) was impaired upon targeting RICTOR. Stable RICTOR knock-down led to significant inhibition of tumor growth in subcutaneous and orthotopic tumor models which was accompanied by significant reduction of tumor cell proliferation. Finally, immunohistochemical analyses of 85 human PDAC samples revealed significantly poorer survival in patients with higher RICTOR expression. In conclusion, these findings provide first evidence for mTORC2/RICTOR as an attractive novel target for treatment of human PDAC.

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