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Cell Cycle. 2011 Apr 1;10(7):1050-8. Epub 2011 Apr 1.

The physiology and pathophysiology of rapamycin resistance: implications for cancer.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, Providence, RI USA. philip_gruppuso@brown.edu

Abstract

Rapamycin is an inhibitor of the mammalian Target of Rapamycin, mTOR, a nutrient-sensing signaling kinase and a key regulator of cell growth and proliferation. While rapamycin and related compounds have anti-tumor activity, a prevalent characteristic of cancer cells is resistance to their anti-proliferative effects. Our studies on nutrient regulation of fetal development showed that hepatocyte proliferation in the late gestation fetal rat is resistant to rapamycin. Extension of these studies to other tissues in the fetal and neonatal rat indicated that rapamycin resistance is a characteristic of normal cell proliferation in the growing organism. In hepatic cells, ribosomal biogenesis and cap-dependent protein translation were found to be relatively insensitive to the drug even though mTOR signaling was highly sensitive. Cell cycle progression was also resistant at the level of cyclin E-dependent kinase activity. Studies on the effect of rapamycin on gene expression in vitro and in vivo demonstrated that mTOR-mediated regulation of gene expression is independent of effects on cell proliferation and cannot be accounted for by functional regulation of identifiable transcription factors. Genes involved in cell metabolism were overrepresented among rapamycin-sensitive genes. We conclude that normal cellular proliferation in the context of a developing organism can be independent of mTOR signaling, that cyclin E-containing complexes are a critical locus for rapamycin sensitivity, and that mTOR functions as a modulator of metabolic gene expression in cells that are resistant to the anti-proliferative effects of the drug.

PMID:
21389767
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3100882
Free PMC Article
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