Ku-0063794 is a specific inhibitor of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)

Juan M. Garcia-Martinez, Jennifer Moran, Rosemary G. Clarke, Alex Gray, Sabina C. Cosulich, Christine M. Chresta, Dario R. Alessi

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398 Citations (Scopus)


mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) stimulates cell growth by phosphorylating and promoting activation of AGC (protein kinase A/protein kinase G/protein kinase Q family kinases such as Akt (protein kinase 13), S6K (p70 ribosomal S6 kinase) and SGK (serum and glucocorticoid protein kinase). mTORCI (mTOR complex-1) phosphorylates the hydrophobic motif of S6K, whereas mTORC2 phosphorylates the hydrophobic motif of Akt and SGK. In the present paper we describe the small molecule Ku-0063794, which inhibits both mTORC1 and mTORC2 with an IC50 of similar to 10 nM, but does not suppress the activity of 76 other protein kinases or seven lipid kinases, including Class 1 PI3Ks (phosphoinositide 3-kinases) at 1000-fold higher concentrations. Ku-0063794 is cell permeant, suppresses activation and hydrophobic motif phosphorylation of Akt, S6K and SGK, but not RSK (ribosomal S6 kinase), an AGC kinase not regulated by mTOR. Ku-0063794 also inhibited phosphorylation of the T-loop Thr(308) residue of Akt phosphorylated by PDK1 (3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1). We interpret this as implying phosphorylation of Ser(473) promotes phosphorylation of Thr(308) and/or induces a conformational change that protects Thr(308) frorn dephosphorylation. In contrast, Ku-0063794 does not affect Thr(308). phosphorylation in fibroblasts lacking essential mTORC2 subunits, suggesting that signalling processes have adapted to enable Thr(308) phosphorylation to occur in the absence of Ser(473) phosphorylation. We found that Ku-0063794 induced a much greater dephosphorylation of the mTORC1 substrate 4E-BP1 (eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1) than rapamycin, even in mTORC2-deficient cells, suggesting a form of mTOR distinct from mTORC1, or mTORC2 phosphorylates 4E-BP1. Ku-0063794 also suppressed cell growth and induced a G(1)-cell-cycle arrest. Our results indicate that Ku-0063794 will be useful in delineating the physiological roles of mTOR and may have utility in treatment of cancers in which this pathway is inappropriately activated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-42
Number of pages14
JournalBiochemical Journal
Early online date29 Apr 2009
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2009


  • Akt/protein kinase B (PKB)
  • Cancer
  • Kinase inhibitor
  • phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)
  • p70 ribosomal S6 kinase (S6K)
  • Serum and glucocorticoid protein kinase (SGK)


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