Background: Hyperactivation of the mTORC2 signaling pathway has been shown to contribute to the oncogenic properties of gliomas. Moreover, overexpression of the mTORC2 regulatory subunit Rictor has been associated with increased proliferation and invasive character of these tumor cells.
Methodology/principal findings: To determine whether Rictor overexpression was sufficient to induce glioma formation in mice, we inserted a Cre-lox-regulated human Rictor transgene into the murine ROSA26 locus. This floxed Rictor strain was crossed with mice expressing the Cre recombinase driven from the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) promoter whose expression is limited to the glial cell compartment. Double transgenic GFAP-Cre/Rictor(loxP/loxP) mice developed multifocal infiltrating glioma containing elevated mTORC2 activity and typically involved the subventricular zone (SVZ) and lateral ventricle. Analysis of Rictor-dependent signaling in these tumors demonstrated that in addition to elevated mTORC2 activity, an mTORC2-independent marker of cortical actin network function, was also elevated. Upon histological examination of the neoplasms, many displayed oligodendroglioma-like phenotypes and expressed markers associated with oligodendroglial lineage tumors. To determine whether upstream oncogenic EGFRvIII signaling would alter tumor phenotypes observed in the GFAP-Cre/Rictor(loxP/loxP) mice, transgenic GFAP-EGFRvIII; GFAP-Cre/Rictor(loxP/loxP) mice were generated. These mice developed mixed astrocytic-oligodendroglial tumors, however glioma formation was accelerated and correlated with increased mTORC2 activity. Additionally, the subventricular zone within the GFAP-Cre/Rictor(loxP/loxP) mouse brain was markedly expanded, and a further proliferation within this compartment of the brain was observed in transgenic GFAP-EGFRvIII; GFAP-Cre/Rictor(loxP/loxP) mice.
Conclusion/significance: These data collectively establish Rictor as a novel oncoprotein and support the role of dysregulated Rictor expression in gliomagenesis via mTOR-dependent and mTOR-independent mechanisms. Furthermore, oncogenic EGFRvIII signaling appears to potentiate the in vivo proliferative capacity of GFAP-Cre/Rictor(loxP/loxP) gliomas.