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01.12.2019 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2019

Preclinical efficacy of dual mTORC1/2 inhibitor AZD8055 in renal cell carcinoma harboring a TFE3 gene fusion

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2019
Eric C. Kauffman, Martin Lang, Soroush Rais-Bahrami, Gopal N. Gupta, Darmood Wei, Youfeng Yang, Carole Sourbier, Ramaprasad Srinivasan
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12885-019-6096-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Eric C Kauffman and Martin Lang are co-first authors.

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Renal cell carcinomas (RCC) harboring a TFE3 gene fusion (TfRCC) represent an aggressive subset of kidney tumors. Key signaling pathways of TfRCC are unknown and preclinical in vivo data are lacking. We investigated Akt/mTOR pathway activation and the preclinical efficacy of dual mTORC1/2 versus selective mTORC1 inhibition in TfRCC.


Levels of phosphorylated Akt/mTOR pathway proteins were compared by immunoblot in TfRCC and clear cell RCC (ccRCC) cell lines. Effects of the mTORC1 inhibitor, sirolimus, and the dual mTORC1/2 inhibitor, AZD8055, on Akt/mTOR activation, cell cycle progression, cell viability and cytotoxicity were compared in TfRCC cells. TfRCC xenograft tumor growth in mice was evaluated after 3-week treatment with oral AZD8055, intraperitoneal sirolimus and respective vehicle controls.


The Akt/mTOR pathway was activated to a similar or greater degree in TfRCC than ccRCC cell lines and persisted partly during growth factor starvation, suggesting constitutive activation. Dual mTORC1/2 inhibition with AZD8055 potently inhibited TfRCC viability (IC50 = 20-50 nM) due at least in part to cell cycle arrest, while benign renal epithelial cells were relatively resistant (IC50 = 400 nM). Maximal viability reduction was greater with AZD8055 than sirolimus (80–90% versus 30–50%), as was the extent of Akt/mTOR pathway inhibition, based on significantly greater suppression of P-Akt (Ser473), P-4EBP1, P-mTOR and HIF1α. In mouse xenograft models, AZD8055 achieved significantly better tumor growth inhibition and prolonged mouse survival compared to sirolimus or vehicle controls.


Akt/mTOR activation is common in TfRCC and a promising therapeutic target. Dual mTORC1/2 inhibition suppresses Akt/mTOR signaling more effectively than selective mTORC1 inhibition and demonstrates in vivo preclinical efficacy against TFE3-fusion renal cell carcinoma.
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