Therapeutic targeting of the mTOR-signalling pathway in cancer: Benefits and limitations

M. Moschetta, A. Reale, C. Marasco, A. Vacca, M. R. Carratù

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) plays an important role in the regulation of protein translation, cell growth and metabolism. The mTOR protein forms two distinct multi-subunit complexes: mTORC1 and mTORC2. The mTORC1 complex is activated by diverse stimuli, such as growth factors, nutrients, energy and stress signals; and essential signalling pathways, such as PI3K and MAPK, in order to control cell growth, proliferation and survival. mTORC1 also activates S6K1 and 4EBP1, which are involved in mRNA translation. The mTORC2 complex is resistant to rapamycin inhibitory activity and is generally insensitive to nutrient- and energy-dependent signals. It activates PKC-α and Akt and regulates the actin cytoskeleton. Deregulation of the mTOR-signalling pathway (PI3K amplification/mutation, PTEN loss of function, Akt overexpression, and S6K1, 4EBP1 and eIF4E overexpression) is common in cancer, and alterations in components of the mTOR pathway have a major role in tumour progression. Therefore, mTOR is an appealing therapeutic target in many tumours. Here we summarize the upstream regulators and downstream effectors of the mTORC1 and mTORC2 pathways, the role of mTOR in cancer, and the potential therapeutic values and issues related to the novel agents targeting the mTOR-signalling pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3801-3813
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

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