Activation and function of the mTORC1 pathway in mast cells

J Immunol. 2008 Apr 1;180(7):4586-95. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.180.7.4586.


Little is known about the signals downstream of PI3K which regulate mast cell homeostasis and function following FcepsilonRI aggregation and Kit ligation. In this study, we investigated the role of the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) pathway in these responses. In human and mouse mast cells, stimulation via FcepsilonRI or Kit resulted in a marked PI3K-dependent activation of the mTORC1 pathway, as revealed by the wortmannin-sensitive sequential phosphorylation of tuberin, mTOR, p70S6 kinase (p70S6K), and 4E-BP1. In contrast, in human tumor mast cells, the mTORC1 pathway was constitutively activated and this was associated with markedly elevated levels of mTORC1 pathway components. Rapamycin, a specific inhibitor of mTORC1, selectively and completely blocked the FcepsilonRI- and Kit-induced mTORC1-dependent p70S6K phosphorylation and partially blocked the 4E-BP1 phosphorylation. In parallel, although rapamycin had no effect on FcepsilonRI-mediated degranulation or Kit-mediated cell adhesion, it inhibited cytokine production, and kit-mediated chemotaxis and cell survival. Furthermore, Rapamycin also blocked the constitutive activation of the mTORC1 pathway and inhibited cell survival of tumor mast cells. These data provide evidence that mTORC1 is a point of divergency for the PI3K-regulated downstream events of FcepsilonRI and Kit for the selective regulation of mast cell functions. Specifically, the mTORC1 pathway may play a critical role in normal and dysregulated control of mast cell homeostasis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Mast Cells / cytology
  • Mast Cells / drug effects
  • Mast Cells / immunology*
  • Mast Cells / metabolism*
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Mice
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism
  • Receptors, IgE / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Transcription Factors / immunology*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Proteins
  • Receptors, IgE
  • Transcription Factors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Sirolimus