mTORC2 Coordinates Pulmonary Artery Smooth Muscle Cell Metabolism, Proliferation and Survival in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
Background—Enhanced proliferation, resistance to apoptosis and metabolic shift to glycolysis of pulmonary arterial vascular smooth muscle cells (PAVSMC) are key pathophysiological components of pulmonary vascular remodeling in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension (IPAH). The role of distinct mTOR complexes mTORC1 (mTOR-raptor) and mTORC2 (mTOR-rictor) in PAVSMC proliferation and survival in PAH and their therapeutic relevance is unknown.
Methods and Results—Immunohistochemical and immunoblot analyses revealed that mTORC1 and mTORC2 pathways are markedly up-regulated in small remodeled PAs and isolated distal PAVSMC from IPAH subjects that have increased ATP levels, proliferation and survival that depend on glycolytic metabolism. siRNA- and pharmacological-based analysis showed that while both mTORC1 and mTORC2 contributing to proliferation, only mTORC2 is required for ATP generation and survival of IPAH PAVSMC. mTORC2 down-regulated energy sensor AMPK allowing activation of mTORC1-S6 and increased proliferation, and deficiency of pro-apoptotic protein Bim and IPAH PAVSMC survival. Nox4 protein levels were increased in IPAH PAVSMC that was necessary for mTORC2 activation, proliferation and survival. Nox4 levels and mTORC2 signaling were significantly up-regulated in small PAs from hypoxia-exposed rats at days 2-28 of hypoxia. Treatment with the mTOR kinase inhibitor PP242 at days 15-28 suppressed mTORC2, but not Nox4, induced SM-specific apoptosis in small PAs and reversed hypoxia-induced pulmonary vascular remodeling in rats.
Conclusions—These data provide a novel mechanistic link of Nox4-dependent activation of mTORC2 via energy sensor AMPK to increased proliferation and survival of PAVSMC in PAH suggesting a new potential pathway for the therapeutic interventions.
- idiopathic PAH
- pulmonary vascular remodeling
- energy metabolism
- pulmonary vascular changes
- vascular smooth muscle
- signal transduction
- Received June 21, 2013.
- Revision received November 12, 2013.
- Accepted November 15, 2013.