Suppression of PI3K/mTOR pathway rescues LLC cells from cell death induced by hypoxia

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Apr 29;330(1):318-26. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2005.02.163.


Cancer cells in solid tumors are challenged by various microenvironmental stresses, including hypoxia, and cancer cells in hypoxic regions are resistant to current cancer therapies. To investigate the mechanism of resistance to hypoxia in cancer cells, we examined mouse Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cells, which died due to necrosis at high density under hypoxic but not under normoxic conditions. Levels of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a central regulator of cellular energy, are reported to be suppressed in hypoxia. We found that phosphorylation of two molecules downstream to it, ribosomal p70 S6 kinase (S6K) and ribosomal protein S6, was markedly suppressed by hypoxia. Overexpression of the active form of S6K increased the sensitivity of LLC cells to hypoxia. On the other hand, inhibition of PI3K or mTOR dramatically reduced hypoxia-induced cell death under hypoxic conditions. Under hypoxic conditions, blockade of the PI3K or mTOR pathway increased levels of intracellular ATP and delayed decreases in pH and glucose level in culture medium, without affecting the cell cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / enzymology
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Lewis Lung / pathology*
  • Cell Death*
  • Cell Hypoxia*
  • Culture Media
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Mice
  • Necrosis
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases / metabolism
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Culture Media
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Protein Kinases
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • mTOR protein, mouse
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases
  • Glucose