mTOR Regulation of N-Myc Downstream Regulated 1 (NDRG1) Phosphorylation in Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 May 27;24(11):9364. doi: 10.3390/ijms24119364.


The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase is a component of two signaling complexes that are known as mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) and mTORC2. We sought to identify mTOR-phosphorylated proteins that are differently expressed in clinically resected clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) relative to pair-matched normal renal tissue. Using a proteomic array, we found N-Myc Downstream Regulated 1 (NDRG1) showed the greatest increase (3.3-fold) in phosphorylation (on Thr346) in ccRCC. This was associated with an increase in total NDRG1. RICTOR is a required subunit in mTORC2, and its knockdown decreased total and phospho-NDRG1 (Thr346) but not NDRG1 mRNA. The dual mTORC1/2 inhibitor, Torin 2, significantly reduced (by ~100%) phospho-NDRG1 (Thr346). Rapamycin is a selective mTORC1 inhibitor that had no effect on the levels of total NDRG1 or phospho-NDRG1 (Thr346). The reduction in phospho-NDRG1 (Thr346) due to the inhibition of mTORC2 corresponded with a decrease in the percentage of live cells, which was correlated with an increase in apoptosis. Rapamycin had no effect on ccRCC cell viability. Collectively, these data show that mTORC2 mediates the phosphorylation of NDRG1 (Thr346) in ccRCC. We hypothesize that RICTOR and mTORC2-mediated phosphorylation of NDRG1 (Thr346) promotes the viability of ccRCC cells.

Keywords: N-Myc Downstream Regulated 1; NDRG1; clear cell renal cell carcinoma; mTOR; mTORC1; mTORC2; proteomics.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 / metabolism
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 2 / metabolism
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proteomics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 2
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Sirolimus
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Transcription Factors
  • N-myc downstream-regulated gene 1 protein
  • MTOR protein, human