Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Frap, FKBP12 rapamycin-associated protein, is a candidate gene for the plasmacytoma resistance locus Pctr2 and can act as a tumor suppressor gene.

PMID 14634209


Susceptibility to mouse plasmacytomagenesis is a complex genetic trait controlled by several Pctr loci (Pctr1, Pctr2, etc). Congenic strain analysis narrowed the genetic interval surrounding the Pctr2 locus, and genes identified in the interval were sequenced from susceptible BALB/c and resistant DBA/2 mice. Frap (FKBP12 rapamycin-associated protein, mTOR, RAFT) was the only gene differing in amino acid sequence between alleles that correlated with strain sensitivity to tumor development. The in vitro kinase activity of the BALB/c FRAP allele was lower than the DBA/2 allele; phosphorylation of p53 and PHAS1/4EBP1 (properties of heat and acid stability/eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein) and autophosphorylation of FRAP were less efficient with the BALB/c allele. FRAP also suppressed transformation of NIH 3T3 cells by ras, with DBA/2 FRAP being more efficient than BALB/c FRAP. Rapamycin, a specific inhibitor of FRAP, did not inhibit growth of plasmacytoma cell lines. These studies identify Frap as a candidate tumor suppressor gene, in contrast to many reports that have focused on its prooncogenic properties. Frap may be similar to Tgfb and E2f in exerting both positive and negative growth-regulatory signals, depending on the timing, pathway, or tumor system involved. The failure of rapamycin to inhibit plasma cell tumor growth suggests that FRAP antagonists may not be appropriate for the treatment of plasma cell tumors. Pctr2 joins Pctr1 in possessing alleles that modify susceptibility to plasmacytomagenesis by encoding differences in efficiency of function (efficiency alleles), rather than all-or-none, gain-of-function, or loss-of-function alleles. By analogy, human cancer may also result from the combined effects of several inefficient alleles.