Distinct roles for mammalian target of rapamycin complexes in the fibroblast response to transforming growth factor-beta.
ABSTRACT: Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) promotes a multitude of diverse biological processes, including growth arrest of epithelial cells and proliferation of fibroblasts. Although the TGF-beta signaling pathways that promote inhibition of epithelial cell growth are well characterized, less is known about the mechanisms mediating the positive response to this growth factor. Given that TGF-beta has been shown to promote fibrotic diseases and desmoplasia, identifying the fibroblast-specific TGF-beta signaling pathways is critical. Here, we investigate the role of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a known effector of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and promoter of cell growth, in the fibroblast response to TGF-beta. We show that TGF-beta activates mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) in fibroblasts but not epithelial cells via a PI3K-Akt-TSC2-dependent pathway. Rapamycin, the pharmacologic inhibitor of mTOR, prevents TGF-beta-mediated anchorage-independent growth without affecting TGF-beta transcriptional responses or extracellular matrix protein induction. In addition to mTORC1, we also examined the role of mTORC2 in TGF-beta action. mTORC2 promotes TGF-beta-induced morphologic transformation and is required for TGF-beta-induced Akt S473 phosphorylation but not mTORC1 activation. Interestingly, both mTOR complexes are necessary for TGF-beta-mediated growth in soft agar. These results define distinct and overlapping roles for mTORC1 and mTORC2 in the fibroblast response to TGF-beta and suggest that inhibitors of mTOR signaling may be useful in treating fibrotic processes, such as desmoplasia.
Project description:A characteristic of dysregulated wound healing in IPF is fibroblastic-mediated damage to lung epithelial cells within fibroblastic foci. In these foci, TGF-? and other growth factors activate fibroblasts that secrete growth factors and matrix regulatory proteins, which activate a fibrotic cascade. Our studies and those of others have revealed that Akt is activated in IPF fibroblasts and it mediates the activation by TGF-? of pro-fibrotic pathways. Recent studies show that mTORC2, a component of the mTOR pathway, mediates the activation of Akt. In this study we set out to determine if blocking mTORC2 with MLN0128, an active site dual mTOR inhibitor, which blocks both mTORC1 and mTORC2, inhibits lung fibrosis. We examined the effect of MLN0128 on TGF-?-mediated induction of stromal proteins in IPF lung fibroblasts; also, we looked at its effect on TGF-?-mediated epithelial injury using a Transwell co-culture system. Additionally, we assessed MLN0128 in the murine bleomycin lung model. We found that TGF-? induces the Rictor component of mTORC2 in IPF lung fibroblasts, which led to Akt activation, and that MLN0128 exhibited potent anti-fibrotic activity in vitro and in vivo. Also, we observed that Rictor induction is Akt-mediated. MLN0128 displays multiple anti-fibrotic and lung epithelial-protective activities; it (1) inhibited the expression of pro-fibrotic matrix-regulatory proteins in TGF-?-stimulated IPF fibroblasts; (2) inhibited fibrosis in a murine bleomycin lung model; and (3) protected lung epithelial cells from injury caused by TGF-?-stimulated IPF fibroblasts. Our findings support a role for mTORC2 in the pathogenesis of lung fibrosis and for the potential of active site mTOR inhibitors in the treatment of IPF and other fibrotic lung diseases.
Project description:Enhanced TGF? activity contributes to the accumulation of matrix proteins including collagen I (?2) by proximal tubular epithelial cells in progressive kidney disease. Although TGF? rapidly activates its canonical Smad signaling pathway, it also recruits noncanonical pathway involving mTOR kinase to regulate renal matrix expansion. The mechanism by which chronic TGF? treatment maintains increased mTOR activity to induce the matrix protein collagen I (?2) expression is not known. Deptor is an mTOR interacting protein that suppresses mTOR activity in both mTORC1 and mTORC2. In proximal tubular epithelial cells, TGF? reduced deptor levels in a time-dependent manner with concomitant increase in both mTORC1 and mTORC2 activities. Expression of deptor abrogated activity of mTORC1 and mTORC2, resulting in inhibition of collagen I (?2) mRNA and protein expression via transcriptional mechanism. In contrast, neutralization of endogenous deptor by shRNAs increased activity of both mTOR complexes and expression of collagen I (?2) similar to TGF? treatment. Importantly, downregulation of deptor by TGF? increased the expression of Hif1? by increasing translation of its mRNA. TGF?-induced deptor downregulation promotes Hif1? binding to its cognate hypoxia responsive element in the collagen I (?2) gene to control its protein expression via direct transcriptional mechanism. Interestingly, knockdown of raptor to specifically block mTORC1 activity significantly inhibited expression of collagen I (?2) and Hif1? while inhibition of rictor to prevent selectively mTORC2 activation did not have any effect. Critically, our data provide evidence for the requirement of TGF?-activated mTORC1 only by deptor downregulation, which dominates upon the bystander mTORC2 activity for enhanced expression of collagen I (?2). Our results also suggest the presence of a safeguard mechanism involving deptor-mediated suppression of mTORC1 activity against developing TGF?-induced renal fibrosis.
Project description:TGF? promotes podocyte hypertrophy and expression of matrix proteins in fibrotic kidney diseases such as diabetic nephropathy. Both mTORC1 and mTORC2 are hyperactive in response to TGF? in various renal diseases. Deptor is a component of mTOR complexes and a constitutive inhibitor of their activities. We identified that deptor downregulation by TGF? maintains hyperactive mTOR in podocytes. To unravel the mechanism, we found that TGF? -initiated noncanonical signaling controls deptor inhibition. Pharmacological inhibitor of PI 3 kinase, Ly 294002 and pan Akt kinase inhibitor MK 2206 prevented the TGF? induced downregulation of deptor, resulting in suppression of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 activities. However, specific isoform of Akt involved in this process is not known. We identified Akt2 as predominant isoform expressed in kidney cortex, glomeruli and podocytes. TGF? time-dependently increased the activating phosphorylation of Akt2. Expression of dominant negative PI 3 kinase and its signaling inhibitor PTEN blocked Akt2 phosphorylation by TGF?. Inhibition of Akt2 using a phospho-deficient mutant that inactivates its kinase activity, as well as siRNA against the kinase markedly diminished TGF? -mediated deptor suppression, its association with mTOR and activation of mTORC1 and mTORC2. Importantly, inhibition of Akt2 blocked TGF? -induced podocyte hypertrophy and expression of the matrix protein fibronectin. This inhibition was reversed by the downregulation of deptor. Interestingly, we detected increased phosphorylation of Akt2 concomitant with TGF? expression in the kidneys of diabetic rats. Thus, our data identify previously unrecognized Akt2 kinase as a driver of TGF? induced deptor downregulation and sustained mTORC1 and mTORC2 activation. Furthermore, we provide the first evidence that deptor downstream of Akt2 contributes to podocyte hypertrophy and matrix protein expression found in glomerulosclerosis in different renal diseases.
Project description:The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) was recently identified in two structurally distinct multiprotein complexes: mTORC1 and mTORC2. Previously, we found that Rictor/mTORC2 protects against cisplatin-induced acute kidney injury, but the role and mechanisms for Rictor/mTORC2 in TGF?1-induced fibroblast activation and kidney fibrosis remains unknown. To study this, we initially treated NRK-49F cells with TGF?1 and found that TGF?1 could activate Rictor/mTORC2 signaling in cultured cells. Blocking Rictor/mTORC2 signaling with Rictor or Akt1 small interfering RNAs markedly inhibited TGF?1-induced fibronection and ?-smooth muscle actin expression. Ensuing western blotting or immunostaining results showed that Rictor/mTORC2 signaling was activated in kidney interstitial myofibroblasts from mice with unilateral ureteral obstruction. Next, a mouse model with fibroblast-specific deletion of Rictor was generated. These knockout mice were normal at birth and had no obvious kidney dysfunction or kidney morphological abnormality within 2 months of birth. Compared with control littermates, the kidneys of Rictor knockout mice developed less interstitial extracellular matrix deposition and inflammatory cell infiltration at 1 or 2 weeks after ureteral obstruction. Thus our study suggests that Rictor/mTORC2 signaling activation mediates TGF?1-induced fibroblast activation and contributes to the development of kidney fibrosis. This may provide a therapeutic target for chronic kidney diseases.
Project description:Quercetin, a flavonoid found in a wide variety of plants and presented in human diet, displays promising potential in preventing kidney fibroblast activation. However, whether quercetin can ameliorate kidney fibrosis in mice with obstructive nephropathy and the underlying mechanisms remain to be further elucidated. In this study, we found that administration of quercetin could largely ameliorate kidney interstitial fibrosis and macrophage accumulation in the kidneys with obstructive nephropathy. MTORC1, mTORC2, ?-catenin as well as Smad signaling were activated in the obstructive kidneys, whereas quercetin could markedly reduce their abundance except Smad3 phosphorylation. In cultured NRK-49F cells, quercetin could inhibit ?-SMA and fibronectin (FN) expression induced by TGF?1 treatment. MTORC1, mTORC2, ?-catenin and Smad signaling pathways were stimulated by TGF?1 at a time dependent manner. Similar to those findings in the obstructive kidneys, mTORC1, mTORC2 and ?-catenin, but not Smad signaling pathways were remarkably blocked by quercetin treatment. Together, these results suggest that quercetin inhibits fibroblast activation and kidney fibrosis involving a combined inhibition of mTOR and ?-catenin signaling transduction, which may act as a therapeutic candidate for patients with chronic kidney diseases.
Project description:Mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR, also known as mammalian target of rapamycin) is a ubiquitous serine/threonine kinase that regulates cell growth, proliferation and survival. These effects are cell-type-specific, and are elicited in response to stimulation by growth factors, hormones and cytokines, as well as to internal and external metabolic cues. Rapamycin was initially developed as an inhibitor of T-cell proliferation and allograft rejection in the organ transplant setting. Subsequently, its molecular target (mTOR) was identified as a component of two interacting complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, that regulate T-cell lineage specification and macrophage differentiation. mTORC1 drives the proinflammatory expansion of T helper (TH) type 1, TH17, and CD4(-)CD8(-) (double-negative, DN) T cells. Both mTORC1 and mTORC2 inhibit the development of CD4(+)CD25(+)FoxP3(+) T regulatory (TREG) cells and, indirectly, mTORC2 favours the expansion of T follicular helper (TFH) cells which, similarly to DN T cells, promote B-cell activation and autoantibody production. In contrast to this proinflammatory effect of mTORC2, mTORC1 favours, to some extent, an anti-inflammatory macrophage polarization that is protective against infections and tissue inflammation. Outside the immune system, mTORC1 controls fibroblast proliferation and chondrocyte survival, with implications for tissue fibrosis and osteoarthritis, respectively. Rapamycin (which primarily inhibits mTORC1), ATP-competitive, dual mTORC1/mTORC2 inhibitors and upstream regulators of the mTOR pathway are being developed to treat autoimmune, hyperproliferative and degenerative diseases. In this regard, mTOR blockade promises to increase life expectancy through treatment and prevention of rheumatic diseases.
Project description:Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is the most common life-threatening hereditary disease in the USA. In human ADPKD studies, sirolimus, a mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) inhibitor, had little therapeutic effect. While sirolimus robustly inhibits mTORC1, it has a minimal effect on mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2). Polycystic kidneys of Pkd2WS25/- mice, an orthologous model of human ADPKD caused by a mutation in the Pkd2 gene, had an early increase in pS6 (marker of mTORC1) and pAktSer(473) (marker of mTORC2). To investigate the effect of combined mTORC1 and 2 inhibition, Pkd2WS25/- mice were treated with an mTOR anti-sense oligonucleotide (ASO) that blocks mTOR expression thus inhibiting both mTORC1 and 2. The mTOR ASO resulted in a significant decrease in mTOR protein, pS6 and pAktSer(473). Pkd2WS25/- mice treated with the ASO had a normalization of kidney weights and kidney function and a marked decrease in cyst volume. The mTOR ASO resulted in a significant decrease in proliferation and apoptosis of tubular epithelial cells. To demonstrate the role of mTORC2 on cyst growth, Rictor, the functional component of mTORC2, was silenced in Madin-Darby canine kidney cell cysts grown in 3D cultures. Silencing Rictor significantly decreased cyst volume and expression of pAktSer(473). The decreased cyst size in the Rictor silenced cells was reversed by introduction of a constitutively active Akt1. In vitro, combined mTORC1 and 2 inhibition reduced cyst growth more than inhibition of mTORC1 or 2 alone. In conclusion, combined mTORC1 and 2 inhibition has therapeutic potential in ADPKD.
Project description:Prostatic branching morphogenesis is an intricate event requiring precise temporal and spatial integration of numerous hormonal and growth factor-regulated inputs, yet relatively little is known about the downstream signaling pathways that orchestrate this process. In this study, we use a novel mesenchyme-free embryonic prostate culture system, newly available mTOR inhibitors and a conditional PTEN loss-of-function model to investigate the role of the interconnected PI3K and mTOR signaling pathways in prostatic organogenesis. We demonstrate that PI3K levels and PI3K/mTOR activity are robustly induced by androgen during murine prostatic development and that PI3K/mTOR signaling is necessary for prostatic epithelial bud invasion of surrounding mesenchyme. To elucidate the cellular mechanism by which PI3K/mTOR signaling regulates prostatic branching, we show that PI3K/mTOR inhibition does not significantly alter epithelial proliferation or apoptosis, but rather decreases the efficiency and speed with which the developing prostatic epithelial cells migrate. Using mTOR kinase inhibitors to tease out the independent effects of mTOR signaling downstream of PI3K, we find that simultaneous inhibition of mTORC1 and mTORC2 activity attenuates prostatic branching and is sufficient to phenocopy combined PI3K/mTOR inhibition. Surprisingly, however, mTORC1 inhibition alone has the reverse effect, increasing the number and length of prostatic branches. Finally, simultaneous activation of PI3K and downstream mTORC1/C2 via epithelial PTEN loss-of-function also results in decreased budding reversible by mTORC1 inhibition, suggesting that the effect of mTORC1 on branching is not primarily mediated by negative feedback on PI3K/mTORC2 signaling. Taken together, our data point to an important role for PI3K/mTOR signaling in prostatic epithelial invasion and migration and implicates the balance of PI3K and downstream mTORC1/C2 activity as a critical regulator of prostatic epithelial morphogenesis.
Project description:Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a serine/threonine kinase that exists in two separate complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, that function to control cell size and growth in response to growth factors, nutrients, and cellular energy levels. Low molecular weight GTP-binding proteins of the Rheb and Rag families are key regulators of the mTORC1 complex, but regulation of mTORC2 is poorly understood. Here, we report that Rac1, a member of the Rho family of GTPases, is a critical regulator of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 in response to growth-factor stimulation. Deletion of Rac1 in primary cells using an inducible-Cre/Lox approach inhibits basal and growth-factor activation of both mTORC1 and mTORC2. Rac1 appears to bind directly to mTOR and to mediate mTORC1 and mTORC2 localization at specific membranes. Binding of Rac1 to mTOR does not depend on the GTP-bound state of Rac1, but on the integrity of its C-terminal domain. This function of Rac1 provides a means to regulate mTORC1 and mTORC2 simultaneously.
Project description:The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) Ser/Thr kinase signals in at least two multiprotein complexes distinguished by their different partners and sensitivities to rapamycin. Acute rapamycin inhibits signaling by mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) but not mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2), which both promote cell growth, proliferation, and survival. Although mTORC2 regulation remains poorly defined, diverse cellular mitogens activate mTORC1 signaling in a manner that requires sufficient levels of amino acids and cellular energy. Before the identification of distinct mTOR complexes, mTOR was reported to autophosphorylate on Ser-2481 in vivo in a rapamycin- and amino acid-insensitive manner. These results suggested that modulation of mTOR intrinsic catalytic activity does not universally underlie mTOR regulation. Here we re-examine the regulation of mTOR Ser-2481 autophosphorylation (Ser(P)-2481) in vivo by studying mTORC-specific Ser(P)-2481 in mTORC1 and mTORC2, with a primary focus on mTORC1. In contrast to previous work, we find that acute rapamycin and amino acid withdrawal markedly attenuate mTORC1-associated mTOR Ser(P)-2481 in cycling cells. Although insulin stimulates both mTORC1- and mTORC2-associated mTOR Ser(P)-2481 in a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-dependent manner, rapamycin acutely inhibits insulin-stimulated mTOR Ser(P)-2481 in mTORC1 but not mTORC2. By interrogating diverse mTORC1 regulatory input, we find that without exception mTORC1-activating signals promote, whereas mTORC1-inhibitory signals decrease mTORC1-associated mTOR Ser(P)-2481. These data suggest that mTORC1- and likely mTORC2-associated mTOR Ser-2481 autophosphorylation directly monitors intrinsic mTORC-specific catalytic activity and reveal that rapamycin inhibits mTORC1 signaling in vivo by reducing mTORC1 catalytic activity.