Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) regulates cellular proliferation and tumor growth in urothelial carcinoma

Am J Pathol. 2010 Jun;176(6):3062-72. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2010.090872. Epub 2010 Apr 15.


Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling has been associated with aggressive tumor growth in many cancer models, although its role in urothelial carcinoma (UCC) has not been extensively explored. Expression of phosphorylated mTOR (P-mTOR) and a downstream target, ribosomal S6 protein (P-S6), was identified in 74% (90/121) and 55% (66/121) of muscle-invasive UCCs, respectively. P-mTOR intensity and %positive cells were associated with reduced disease-specific survival (P = 0.04, P = 0.08, respectively). Moreover, P-mTOR intensity corresponded to increased pathological stage (P < 0.01), and mTOR activity was associated with cell migration in vitro. In addition, mTOR inhibition via rapamycin administration reduced cell proliferation in UCC cell lines RT4, T24, J82, and UMUC3 in a dose-dependent manner to 6% of control levels and was significant at 1 nmol/L in J82, T24, and RT4 cells (P < 0.01, P < 0.01, P = 0.03, respectively) and at 10 nmol/L in UMUC3 cells (P = 0.03). Reduced proliferation corresponded with reduced P-S6 levels by Western blot, and effects were ablated by pretreatment of cells with mTOR-specific siRNA. No effects of rapamycin on apoptosis were identified by TUNEL labeling or PARP cleavage. Administration of rapamycin to T24-xenografted mice resulted in a 55% reduction in tumor volume (P = 0.03) and a 40% reduction in proliferation (P < 0.01) compared with vehicle-injected mice. These findings indicate that mTOR pathway activation frequently occurs in UCC and that mTOR inhibition may be a potential means to reduce UCC growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell* / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell* / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa / genetics
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology
  • Survival Rate
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms* / pathology


  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • mTOR protein, mouse
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa
  • Sirolimus