Rapamycin induces feedback activation of Akt signaling through an IGF-1R-dependent mechanism

Oncogene. 2007 Mar 22;26(13):1932-40. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1209990. Epub 2006 Sep 25.


Rapamycin and several analogs, such as CCI-779 and RAD001, are currently undergoing clinical evaluation as anticancer agents. In this study, we show that inhibition of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling by rapamycin leads to an increase of Akt phosphorylation in Rh30 and RD human rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines and xenografts, and insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-II-treated C2C12 mouse myoblasts and IGF-II-overexpressing Chinese hamster ovary cells. RNA interference-mediated knockdown of S6K1 also results in an increase of Akt phosphorylation. These data suggest that mTOR/S6K1 inhibition either by rapamycin or small interfering RNA (siRNA) triggers a negative feedback loop, resulting in the activation of Akt signaling. We next sought to investigate the mechanism of this negative feedback regulation from mTOR to Akt. Suppression of insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1 and tuberous sclerosis complex-1 by siRNAs failed to abrogate rapamycin-induced upregulation of Akt phosphorylation in both Rh30 and RD cells. However, pretreatment with h7C10 antibody directed against insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) led to a blockade of rapamycin-induced Akt activation. Combined mTOR and IGF-1R inhibition with rapamycin and h7C10 antibody, respectively, resulted in additive inhibition of cell growth and survival. These data suggest that rapamycin mediates Akt activation through an IGF-1R-dependent mechanism. Thus, combining an mTOR inhibitor and an IGF-1R antibody/inhibitor may be an appropriate strategy to enhance mTOR-targeted anticancer therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • CHO Cells
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • DNA Primers
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Feedback, Physiological*
  • Mice
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology*


  • DNA Primers
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Sirolimus