We examined functional status, activation mechanisms, and biologic role of the mTORC1 signaling pathway in malignant CD4(+) T cells derived from the cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). Whereas the spontaneously growing CTCL-derived cell lines displayed persistent activation of the TORC1 as well as the PI3K/Akt and MEK/ERK pathways, the IL-2-dependent cell lines activated the pathways in response to IL-2 and IL-15 but not IL-21. Activation of mTORC1 and MEK/ERK was nutrient dependent. The mTORC1, PI3K/Akt, and MEK/ERK pathways could also be activated by IL-2 in the primary leukemic, mitogen-preactivated CTCL cells. mTORC1 activation was also detected in the CTCL tissues in the lymphoma stage-dependent manner with the highest percentage of positive cells present in the cases with a large cell transformation. Rapamycin inhibited mTORC1 signaling and suppressed CTCL cell proliferation but showed little effect on their apoptotic rate when used as a single agent. Activation of the mTORC1, PI3K/Akt, and MEK/ERK pathways was strictly dependent on the Jak3 and Jak1 kinases. Finally, mTORC1 activation was transduced preferentially through the PI3K/Akt pathway. These findings document the selective gammac-signaling cytokine-mediated activation of the mTORC1 pathway in the CTCL cells and suggest that the pathway represents a therapeutic target in CTCL and, possibly, other T-cell lymphomas.
Keywords: Apoptosis; CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes; Cell Line, Tumor; Cytokines; Humans; Interleukin-15; Interleukin-2; Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous; RNA, Small Interfering; Recombinant Proteins; Sirolimus; Transcription Factors; Tumor Cells, Cultured