Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Pharmacology & Toxicology

First Advisor

Richard Moran


The tumor suppressor TP53 is the most frequently altered gene in human cancers. The growth-promoting complex, mTORC1 plays a part of the oncogenic profile caused by dysfunctional p53. mTORC1 sits downstream of AMPK and other crucial tumor suppressors/oncogenes, PTEN, LKB1, and Akt. The antifolate pemetrexed was found by this laboratory to activate AMPK via the inhibition of the enzyme AICART in de novo purine synthesis. This work presents a mechanism of mTORC1 activation with p53 loss, as well as of mTORC1 inhibition by pemetrexed-induced AMPK. We have found that mTORC1 activity was substantially upregulated by the loss or mutation of p53. This activation involves the loss of TSC2 from lysosomal membranes, the site of mTORC1 activation by Rheb. We demonstrate that loss of lysosomal TSC2 increased the levels of lysosomal Rheb. Control of mTORC1 was restored by overexpression of TSC2, which correlated with decreased lysosomal Rheb. Surprisingly, pemetrexed-activated AMPK did not phosphorylate TSC2 because of an accumulation of nonfunctional p53, and a subsequent decrease in TSC2 mRNA. Accordingly, lysosomal TSC2 decreased, however, the levels of lysosomal Rheb decreased. Future studies will question whether the robust Raptor phosphorylation by pemetrexed is involved in this decrease in lysosomal Rheb. AMPK activation by pemetrexed also significantly increased the translocation of AMPK to the nucleus, and we will explore the function of this nuclear AMPK. Overall, these findings present a mechanism involved in the oncogenic signaling of mTORC1 with loss of p53 and offer insight into how pemetrexed reinstates control.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission