Significance of low mTORC1 activity in defining the characteristics of brain tumor stem cells

Yi Peng Han, Atsushi Enomoto, Yukihiro Shiraki, Shen Qi Wang, Xiaoze Wang, Shinya Toyokuni, Naoya Asai, Kaori Ushida, Hosne Ara, Fumiharu Ohka, Toshihiko Wakabayashi, Jie Ma, Atsushi Natsume, Masahide Takahashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background. The signifcance of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) activity in the maintenance of cancer stem cells (CSCs) remains controversial. Previous fndings showed that mTORC1 activation depleted the population of leukemia stem cells in leukemia, while maintaining the stemness in pancreatic CSCs. The purpose of this study was to examine the currently unknown role and signifcance of mTORC1 activity in brain tumor stem cells (BTSCs). Methods. Basal mTORC1 activity and its kinetics were investigated in BTSC clones isolated from patients with glioblastoma and their differentiated progenies (DIFFs). The effects of nutrient deprivation and the mTORC1 inhibitors on cell proliferation were compared between the BTSCs and DIFFs. Tissue sections from patients with brain gliomas were examined for expression of BTSC markers and mTORC1 activity by immunohistochemistry. Results. BTSCs presented lower basal mTORC1 activity under each culture condition tested and a more rapid decline of mTORC1 activity after nutrient deprivation than observed in DIFFs. The self-renewal capacity of BTSCs was unaffected by mTORC1 inhibition, whereas it effectively suppressed DIFF proliferation. In agreement, immunohistochemical staining of glioma tissues revealed low mTORC1 activity in tumor cells positive for BTSC markers. In in vitro culture, BTSCs exhibited resistance to the antitumor agent temozolomide. Conclusions. Our fndings indicated the importance of low mTORC1 activity in maintaining the undifferentiated state of BTSCs, implicating the relevance of manipulating mTORC1 activity when developing future strategies that target BTSCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-647
Number of pages12
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 01-05-2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research


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