The liver kinase B1 (LKB1)/adenosine mono-phosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK)/tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex (mTORC1) cassette constitutes a canonical signaling pathway that integrates information on the metabolic and nutrient status and translates this into regulation of cell growth. Alterations in this pathway are associated with a wide variety of cancers and hereditary hamartoma syndromes, diseases in which hyperactivation of mTORC1 has been described. Specific mTORC1 inhibitors have been developed for clinical use, and these drugs have been anticipated to provide efficient treatment for these diseases. In the present review, we provide an overview of the metabolic LKB1/AMPK/TSC/mTORC1 pathway, describe how its aberrant signaling associates with cancer development, and indicate the difficulties encountered when biochemical data are extrapolated to provide avenues for rational treatment of disease when targeting this signaling pathway. A careful examination of preclinical and clinical studies performed with rapamycin or derivatives thereof shows that although results are encouraging, we are only half way in the long and winding road to design rationale treatment targeted at the LKB1/AMPK/TSC/mTORC1 pathway. Inherited cancer syndromes associated with this pathway such as the Peutz-Jeghers syndrome and TSC, provide perfect models to study the relationship between genetics and disease phenotype, and to delineate the complexities that underlie translation of biochemical and genetical information to clinical management, and thus provide important clues for devising novel rational medicine for cancerous diseases in general.

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Oncogene: including Oncogene Reviews
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Veelen, W., Korsse, S., van de Laar, L., & Peppelenbosch, M. (2011). The long and winding road to rational treatment of cancer associated with LKB1/AMPK/TSC/mTORC1 signaling. Oncogene: including Oncogene Reviews (Vol. 30, pp. 2289–2303). doi:10.1038/onc.2010.630