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Logo of bmccancBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Cancer
BMC Cancer. 2012; 12: 86.
Published online 2012 March 8. doi:  10.1186/1471-2407-12-86
PMCID: PMC3314574

Antitumor activities of ATP-competitive inhibitors of mTOR in colon cancer cells



The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is frequently activated in colon cancers due to mutations in the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway. Targeting mTOR with allosteric inhibitors of mTOR such as rapamycin reduces colon cancer progression in several experimental models. Recently, a new class of mTOR inhibitors that act as ATP-competitive inhibitors of mTOR, has been developed. The effectiveness of these drugs in colon cancer cells has however not been fully characterized.


LS174T, SW480 and DLD-1 colon cancer cell lines were treated with PP242 an ATP-competitive inhibitor of mTOR, NVP-BEZ235, a dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor or rapamycin. Tumor cell growth, proliferation and survival were assessed by MTS assay, 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrDU) incorporation or by quantification of DNA fragmentation respectively. In vivo, the anticancer activity of mTOR inhibitors was evaluated on nude mice bearing colon cancer xenografts.


PP242 and NVP-BEZ235 reduced the growth, proliferation and survival of LS174T and DLD-1 colon cancer cells more efficiently than rapamycin. Similarly, PP242 and NVP-BEZ235 also decreased significantly the proliferation and survival of SW480 cells which were resistant to the effects of rapamycin. In vivo, PP242 and NVP-BEZ235 reduced the growth of xenografts generated from LS174T and SW480 cells. Finally, we also observed that the efficacy of ATP-competitive inhibitors of mTOR was enhanced by U0126, a MEK inhibitor.


Taken together, these results show that ATP-competitive inhibitors of mTOR are effective in blocking colon cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo and thus represent a therapeutic option in colon cancer either alone or in combination with MEK inhibitors.

Keywords: Colon cancer, mTOR, Rapamycin, NVP-BEZ235, PP242, Proliferation, Xenograft

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