Constitutive activation of the mTOR signaling pathway within the normal glomerulus.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Biochemical and biophysical research communications (2012)


Agents that target the activity of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase in humans are associated with proteinuria. However, the mechanisms underlying mTOR activity and signaling within the kidney are poorly understood. In this study, we developed a sensitive immunofluorescence technique for the evaluation of activated pmTOR and its associated signals in situ. While we find that pmTOR is rarely expressed in normal non-renal tissues, we consistently find intense expression in glomeruli within normal mouse and human kidneys. Using double staining, we find that the expression of pmTOR co-localizes with nephrin in podocytes and expression appears minimal within other cell types in the glomerulus. In addition, we found that pmTOR was expressed on occasional renal tubular cells within mouse and human kidney specimens. We also evaluated mTOR signaling in magnetic bead-isolated glomeruli from normal mice and, by Western blot analysis, we confirmed function of the pathway in glomerular cells vs. interstitial cells. Furthermore, we found that the activity of the pathway as well as the expression of VEGF, a target of mTOR-induced signaling, were reduced within glomeruli of mice following treatment with rapamycin. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that the mTOR signaling pathway is constitutively hyperactive within podocytes. We suggest that pmTOR signaling functions to regulate glomerular homeostasis in part via the inducible expression of VEGF.