Kidney international

Rictor/mTORC2 signaling mediates TGFβ1-induced fibroblast activation and kidney fibrosis.

PMID 25970154


The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) was recently identified in two structurally distinct multiprotein complexes: mTORC1 and mTORC2. Previously, we found that Rictor/mTORC2 protects against cisplatin-induced acute kidney injury, but the role and mechanisms for Rictor/mTORC2 in TGFβ1-induced fibroblast activation and kidney fibrosis remains unknown. To study this, we initially treated NRK-49F cells with TGFβ1 and found that TGFβ1 could activate Rictor/mTORC2 signaling in cultured cells. Blocking Rictor/mTORC2 signaling with Rictor or Akt1 small interfering RNAs markedly inhibited TGFβ1-induced fibronection and α-smooth muscle actin expression. Ensuing western blotting or immunostaining results showed that Rictor/mTORC2 signaling was activated in kidney interstitial myofibroblasts from mice with unilateral ureteral obstruction. Next, a mouse model with fibroblast-specific deletion of Rictor was generated. These knockout mice were normal at birth and had no obvious kidney dysfunction or kidney morphological abnormality within 2 months of birth. Compared with control littermates, the kidneys of Rictor knockout mice developed less interstitial extracellular matrix deposition and inflammatory cell infiltration at 1 or 2 weeks after ureteral obstruction. Thus our study suggests that Rictor/mTORC2 signaling activation mediates TGFβ1-induced fibroblast activation and contributes to the development of kidney fibrosis. This may provide a therapeutic target for chronic kidney diseases.