Akt2 causes TGFβ-induced deptor downregulation facilitating mTOR to drive podocyte hypertrophy and matrix protein expression

Falguni Das, Nandini Ghosh-Choudhury, Doug Yoon Lee, Yves Gorin, Balakuntalam S. Kasinath, Goutam Ghosh Choudhury

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10 Scopus citations


TGFβ promotes podocyte hypertrophy and expression of matrix proteins in fibrotic kidney diseases such as diabetic nephropathy. Both mTORC1 and mTORC2 are hyperactive in response to TGFβ in various renal diseases. Deptor is a component of mTOR complexes and a constitutive inhibitor of their activities. We identified that deptor downregulation by TGFβ maintains hyperactive mTOR in podocytes. To unravel the mechanism, we found that TGFβ -initiated noncanonical signaling controls deptor inhibition. Pharmacological inhibitor of PI 3 kinase, Ly 294002 and pan Akt kinase inhibitor MK 2206 prevented the TGFβ induced downregulation of deptor, resulting in suppression of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 activities. However, specific isoform of Akt involved in this process is not known. We identified Akt2 as predominant isoform expressed in kidney cortex, glomeruli and podocytes. TGFβ time-dependently increased the activating phosphorylation of Akt2. Expression of dominant negative PI 3 kinase and its signaling inhibitor PTEN blocked Akt2 phosphorylation by TGFβ. Inhibition of Akt2 using a phospho-deficient mutant that inactivates its kinase activity, as well as siRNA against the kinase markedly diminished TGFβ -mediated deptor suppression, its association with mTOR and activation of mTORC1 and mTORC2. Importantly, inhibition of Akt2 blocked TGFβ -induced podocyte hypertrophy and expression of the matrix protein fibronectin. This inhibition was reversed by the downregulation of deptor. Interestingly, we detected increased phosphorylation of Akt2 concomitant with TGFβ expression in the kidneys of diabetic rats. Thus, our data identify previously unrecognized Akt2 kinase as a driver of TGFβ induced deptor downregulation and sustained mTORC1 and mTORC2 activation. Furthermore, we provide the first evidence that deptor downstream of Akt2 contributes to podocyte hypertrophy and matrix protein expression found in glomerulosclerosis in different renal diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0207285
JournalPloS one
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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