A PI3K- and GTPase-independent Rac1-mTOR mechanism mediates MET-driven anchorage-independent cell growth but not migration.
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Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) are often overexpressed or mutated in cancers and drive tumor growth and metastasis. In the current model of RTK signaling, including that of MET, downstream phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) mediates both cell proliferation and cell migration, whereas the small guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase) Rac1 mediates cell migration. However, in cultured NIH3T3 and glioblastoma cells, we found that class I PI3K mediated oncogenic MET-induced cell migration but not anchorage-independent growth. In contrast, Rac1 regulated both processes in distinct ways. Downstream of PI3K, Rac1 mediated cell migration through its GTPase activity, whereas independently of PI3K, Rac1 mediated anchorage-independent growth in a GTPase-independent manner through an adaptor function. Through its RKR motif, Rac1 formed a complex with the kinase mTOR to promote its translocation to the plasma membrane, where its activity promoted anchorage-independent growth of the cell cultures. Inhibiting mTOR with rapamycin suppressed the growth of subcutaneous MET-mutant cell grafts in mice, including that of MET inhibitor-resistant cells. These findings reveal a GTPase-independent role for Rac1 in mediating a PI3K-independent MET-to-mTOR pathway and suggest alternative or combined strategies that might overcome resistance to RTK inhibitors in patients with cancer.
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Signal Transduction & Molecular Pharmacology
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Science signaling, 2020, 13 (637)