Research ArticleCANCER

ETV7 is an essential component of a rapamycin-insensitive mTOR complex in cancer

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Science Advances  12 Sep 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 9, eaar3938
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar3938


The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) serine/threonine kinase, a critical regulator of cell proliferation, is frequently deregulated in human cancer. Although rapamycin inhibits the two canonical mTOR complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, it often shows minimal benefit as an anticancer drug. This is caused by rapamycin resistance of many different tumors, and we show that a third mTOR complex, mTORC3, contributes to this resistance. The ETS (E26 transformation–specific) transcription factor ETV7 interacts with mTOR in the cytoplasm and assembles mTORC3, which is independent of ETV7’s transcriptional activity. This complex exhibits bimodal mTORC1/2 activity but is devoid of crucial mTORC1/2 components. Many human cancers activate mTORC3 at considerable frequency, and tumor cell lines that lose mTORC3 expression become rapamycin-sensitive. We show mTORC3’s tumorigenicity in a rhabdomyosarcoma mouse model in which transgenic ETV7 expression accelerates tumor onset and promotes tumor penetrance. Discovery of mTORC3 represents an mTOR paradigm shift and identifies a novel target for anticancer drug development.

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