Bcl-2 phosphorylation and apoptosis activated by damaged microtubules require mTOR and are regulated by Akt

Oncogene. 2004 Jul 29;23(34):5781-91. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1207698.


The serine/threonine kinase mTOR, the major sensor of cell growth along the PI3K/Akt pathway, can be activated by agents acting on microtubules. Damaged microtubules induce phosphorylation of the Bcl-2 protein and lower the threshold of programmed cell death, both of which are inhibited by rapamycin. In HEK293 cells expressing Akt mutants, the level of Bcl-2 phosphorylation and the threshold of apoptosis induced by taxol or by nocodazole are significantly modified. In cells expressing dominant-negative Akt (DN-Akt), Bcl-2 phosphorylation and p70S6KThr421/Ser424 phosphorylation induced by taxol or nocodazole were significantly enhanced as compared to cells expressing constitutively active Akt (CA-Akt) and inhibited by rapamycin. Moreover, DN-Akt cells were more sensitive to antitubule agents than CA-Akt cells. In nocodazole-treated HEK293 cells sorted according to cell cycle, the p70S6KThr421/Ser424 phosphorylation was associated to the G2/M fraction. More relevant, nocodazole inhibited, in a dose-response manner, mTOR phosphorylation at Ser2448. This activity, potentiated in DN-Akt cells, was not detectable in CA-Akt cells. Our results suggest that death signals originating from damaged microtubules in G2/M can compete with G1 survival pathways at the level of mTOR. These findings have implications for cancer therapy and drug resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • G2 Phase / drug effects
  • G2 Phase / physiology
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Mitosis / drug effects
  • Mitosis / physiology
  • Mutation
  • Nocodazole / pharmacology
  • Paclitaxel / pharmacology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / drug effects
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa / metabolism
  • Serine / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Serine
  • Protein Kinases
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa
  • Paclitaxel
  • Nocodazole
  • Sirolimus