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Mol Cancer Res. 2012 May;10(5):649-59. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-11-0425-T. Epub 2012 Mar 16.

Regulation of mTOR complex 2 signaling in neurofibromatosis 2-deficient target cell types.

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Center for Human Genetic Research, Massachusetts General Hospital, Richard B. Simches Research Building, 185 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Inactivating mutations in the neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) tumor suppressor gene results in the development of schwannomas and meningiomas. Using NF2-deficient meningioma cells and tumors, together with the normal cellular counterparts that meningiomas derive, arachnoid cells, we identified merlin as a novel negative regulator of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1). We now show that merlin positively regulates the kinase activity of mTORC2, a second functionally distinct mTOR complex, and that downstream phosphorylation of mTORC2 substrates, including Akt, is reduced upon acute merlin deficiency in cells. In response to general growth factor stimulation, Akt signaling is attenuated in merlin RNA interference-suppressed human arachnoid and Schwann cells by mechanisms mediated by hyperactive mTORC1 and impaired mTORC2. Moreover, Akt signaling is impaired differentially in a cell type-dependent manner in response to distinct growth factor stimuli. However, contrary to activation of mTORC1, the attenuated mTORC2 signaling profiles exhibited by normal arachnoid and Schwann cells in response to acute merlin loss were not consistently reflected in NF2-deficient meningiomas and schwannomas, suggesting additional genetic events may have been acquired in tumors after initial merlin loss. This finding contrasts with another benign tumor disorder, tuberous sclerosis complex, which exhibits attenuated mTORC2 signaling profiles in both cells and tumors. Finally, we examined rapamycin, as well as the mTOR kinase inhibitor, Torin1, targeting both mTOR complexes to identify the most efficacious class of compounds for blocking mTOR-mediated signaling and proliferation in merlin-deficient meningioma cells. These studies may ultimately aid in the development of suitable therapeutics for NF2-associated tumors.

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