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Activation of mTOR is implicated in the development and progression of breast cancer. mTOR inhibition exhibited promising antitumor effects in breast cancer; however, its effect is compromised by several feedback mechanisms. One of such mechanisms is the upregulation of mTOR pathway in breast cancer cells. Despite the established role of mTOR activation in breast cancer, the status of total mTOR protein and its impact on the tumor behavior and response to treatment are poorly understood. Besides, the mechanisms underlying mTOR protein degradation in normal and cancer breast cells are still largely unknown. We and others found that total mTOR protein level is elevated in breast cancer cells compared to their nonmalignant counterparts. We have detected defective proteolysis of mTOR protein in breast cancer cells, which could, at least in part, explain the high level of mTOR protein in these cells. We show that metformin treatment in MCF-7 breast cancer cells induced degradation of mTOR and sequestration of this protein in a perinuclear region. The decrease in mTOR protein level in these cells correlated positively with a concomitant inhibition of proliferation and migration potentials of these cells. These findings provided a novel mechanism for the metformin action in breast cancer treatment. Understanding the proteolytic mechanism responsible for mTOR level in breast cancer may pave the way for improving the efficacy of breast cancer treatment regimens and mitigating drug resistance as well as providing a basis for potential novel therapeutic modalities for breast cancer. © 2016 The Authors. Cancer Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Mohamed Alalem, Alpana Ray, Bimal K Ray. Metformin induces degradation of mTOR protein in breast cancer cells. Cancer medicine. 2016 Nov;5(11):3194-3204

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PMID: 27748082

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