Mammalian target of rapamycin promotes vincristine resistance through multiple mechanisms independent of maintained glycolytic rate
Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
Deregulation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase-Akt pathway is a major contributor to oncogenesis and resistance to cancer therapy. Recent work has shown mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) to be a major target downstream of Akt that contributes to both transformation and therapeutic resistance. Although inhibitors of Akt are not yet clinically available, rapamycin, a mTOR-specific inhibitor, has long been used as an immunosuppressant, and several rapamycin analogues are now in clinical trials in oncology. Recent data indicate that a mTOR complex phosphorylates Akt, and this complex is insensitive to rapamycin. We show that dominant-negative mTOR diminishes phosphorylation of endogenous Akt and exogenous myristoylated Akt (mAkt), that prolonged exposure to rapamycin also inhibits Akt activation, and that this inhibition is dependent on new protein synthesis. These data suggest that mTOR facilitates Akt activation through mechanisms other than direct phosphorylation. A constitutively active mTOR mutant that fails to enhance Akt phosphorylation nevertheless promotes resistance to multiple antimicrotubule agents, indicating that mTOR also mediates survival independent of Akt. Although Akt- and mTOR-mediated survival has been linked to regulation of cellular metabolism, we also show that survival and metabolic control are separable. The hexokinase inhibitor 5-thioglucose markedly inhibits glycolytic rate but does not diminish vincristine resistance mediated by mAkt or mTOR, and it has only a minor effect on mTOR- or mAkt-mediated resistance to growth factor withdrawal, suggesting that Akt-mTOR-mediated resistance is largely independent of maintenance of glycolytic rate. We conclude that mTOR activity can promote resistance through multiple mechanisms independent of maintained glycolytic rate.