mTOR is aberrantly activated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and plays pivotal roles in tumorigenesis and chemoresistance. Rapamycin has been reported to exert antitumor activity in HCC and sensitizes HCC cells to cytotoxic agents. However, due to feedback activation of AKT after mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) inhibition, simultaneous targeting of mTORC1/2 may be more effective. In this study, we examined the interaction between the dual mTORC1/2 inhibitor OSI-027 and doxorubicin in vitro and in vivo. OSI-027 was found to reduce phosphorylation of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 substrates, including 4E-BP1, p70S6K, and AKT (Ser473), and inhibit HCC cell proliferation. Similar to OSI-027 treatment, knockdown of mTORC2 induced G0-G1 phase cell-cycle arrest. In contrast, rapamycin or knockdown of mTORC1 increased phosphorylation of AKT (Ser473), yet had little antiproliferative effect. Notably, OSI-027 synergized with doxorubicin for the antiproliferative efficacy in a manner dependent of MDR1 expression in HCC cells. The synergistic antitumor effect of OSI-027 and doxorubicin was also observed in a HCC xenograft mouse model. Moreover, AKT was required for OSI-027-induced cell-cycle arrest and downregulation of MDR1. Our findings provide a rationale for dual mTORC1/mTORC2 inhibitors, such as OSI-027, as monotherapy or in combination with cytotoxic agents to treat HCC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research