Priority Research Papers:

AKT inhibition overcomes rapamycin resistance by enhancing the repressive function of PRAS40 on mTORC1/4E-BP1 axis

Wenting Mi, Qing Ye, Side Liu and Qing-Bai She _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:13962-13977. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3920

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Wenting Mi1,2, Qing Ye1, Side Liu2 and Qing-Bai She1

1 Markey Cancer Center and Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, KY, USA

2 Department of Gastroenterology, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China

Correspondence to:

Qing-Bai She, email:

Side Liu, email:

Keywords: PRAS40, 4E-BP1, mTORC1, AKT, translational regulation

Received: February 18, 2015 Accepted: April 08, 2015 Published: April 23, 2015


The mTORC1 inhibitors, rapamycin and its analogs, are known to show only modest antitumor activity in clinic, but the underlying mechanisms remain largely elusive. Here, we found that activated AKT signaling is associated with rapamycin resistance in breast and colon cancers by sustained phosphorylation of the translational repressor 4E-BP1. Treatment of tumor cells with rapamycin or the AKT inhibitor MK2206 showed a limited activity in inhibiting 4E-BP1 phosphorylation, cap-dependent translation, cell growth and motility. However, treatment with both drugs resulted in profound effects in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistic investigation demonstrated that the combination treatment was required to effectively inhibit PRAS40 phosphorylation on both Ser183 and Thr246 mediated by mTORC1 and AKT respectively, and with the combined treatment, dephosphorylated PRAS40 binding to the raptor/mTOR complex was enhanced, leading to dramatic repression of mTORC1-regulated 4E-BP1 phosphorylation and translation. Knockdown of PRAS40 or 4E-BP1 expression markedly reduced the dependence of tumor cells on AKT/mTORC1 signaling for translation and survival. Together, these findings reveal a critical role of PRAS40 as an integrator of mTORC1 and AKT signaling for 4E-BP1-mediated translational regulation of tumor cell growth and motility, and highlight PRAS40 phosphorylation as a potential biomarker to evaluate the therapeutic response to mTOR/AKT inhibitors.

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