Molecular and cellular biology (August 2009)
NF2/merlin is a novel negative regulator of mTOR complex 1, and activation of mTORC1 is associated with meningioma and schwannoma growth. Inactivating mutations of the neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) gene, NF2, result predominantly in benign neurological tumors, schwannomas and meningiomas, in humans; however, mutations in murine Nf2 lead to a broad spectrum of cancerous tumors. The tumor-suppressive function of the NF2 protein, merlin, a membrane-cytoskeleton linker, remains unclear. Here, we identify the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) as a novel mediator of merlin's tumor suppressor activity. Merlin-deficient human meningioma cells and merlin knockdown arachnoidal cells, the nonneoplastic cell counterparts of meningiomas, exhibit rapamycin-sensitive constitutive mTORC1 activation and increased growth. NF2 patient tumors and Nf2-deficient mouse embryonic fibroblasts demonstrate elevated mTORC1 signaling. Conversely, the exogenous expression of wild-type merlin isoforms, but not a patient-derived L64P mutant, suppresses mTORC1 signaling. Merlin does not regulate mTORC1 via the established mechanism of phosphoinositide 3-kinase-Akt or mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase-mediated TSC2 inactivation and may instead regulate TSC/mTOR signaling in a novel fashion. In conclusion, the deregulation of mTORC1 activation underlies the aberrant growth and proliferation of NF2-associated tumors and may restrain the growth of these lesions through negative feedback mechanisms, suggesting that rapamycin in combination with phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitors may be therapeutic for NF2.