Brief report: The differential roles of mTORC1 and mTORC2 in mesenchymal stem cell differentiation

Sally K. Martin, Stephen Fitter, Ankit K. Dutta, Mary P. Matthews, Carl R. Walkley, Michael N. Hall, Markus A. Ruegg, Stan Gronthos, Andrew C W Zannettino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Adipocytes (AdCs) and osteoblasts (OBs) are derived from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and differentiation toward either lineage is both mutually exclusive and transcriptionally controlled. Recent studies implicate the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway as important in determining MSC fate, with inhibition of mTOR promoting OB differentiation and suppressing AdC differentiation. mTOR functions within two distinct multiprotein complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, each of which contains the unique adaptor protein, raptor or rictor, respectively. While compounds used to study mTOR signaling, such as rapamycin and related analogs, primarily inhibit mTORC1, prolonged exposure can also disrupt mTORC2 function, confounding interpretation of inhibitor studies. As a result, the relative contribution of mTORC1 and mTORC2 to MSC fate determination remains unclear. In this study, we generated primary mouse MSCs deficient in either Rptor (RapKO) or Rictor (RicKO) using the Cre/loxP system. Cre-mediated deletion of Rptor or Rictor resulted in impaired mTORC1 and mTORC2 signaling, respectively. Under lineage-inductive culture conditions, RapKO MSCs displayed a reduced capacity to form lipid-laden AdCs and an increased capacity to form a mineralized matrix. In contrast, RicKO MSCs displayed reduced osteogenic differentiation capacity and enhanced adipogenic differentiation potential. Taken together, our findings reveal distinct roles for mTORC1 and mTORC2 in MSC lineage commitment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1359-1365
Number of pages7
JournalStem Cells
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Apr 2015


  • Mesenchymal stem cell
  • Raptor
  • Rictor
  • mTOR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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