Nutrients. 2022 Jul 22;14(15):3022. doi: 10.3390/nu14153022.
BACKGROUND: Pancreatic beta cells regulate bioenergetics efficiency and secret insulin in response to glucose and nutrient availability. The mechanistic Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) network orchestrates pancreatic progenitor cell growth and metabolism by nucleating two complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the impact of mTORC1/mTORC2 inhibition on amino acid metabolism in mouse pancreatic beta cells (Beta-TC-6 cells, ATCC-CRL-11506) using high-resolution metabolomics (HRM) and live-mitochondrial functions.
METHODS: Pancreatic beta TC-6 cells were incubated for 24 h with either: RapaLink-1 (RL); Torin-2 (T); rapamycin (R); metformin (M); a combination of RapaLink-1 and metformin (RLM); Torin-2 and metformin (TM); compared to the control. We applied high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) LC-MS/MS untargeted metabolomics to compare the twenty natural amino acid profiles to the control. In addition, we quantified the bioenergetics dynamics and cellular metabolism by live-cell imaging and the MitoStress Test XF24 (Agilent, Seahorse). The real-time, live-cell approach simultaneously measures the oxygen consumption rate (OCR) and extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) to determine cellular respiration and metabolism. Statistical significance was assessed using ANOVA on Ranks and post-hoc Welch t-Tests.
RESULTS: RapaLink-1, Torin-2, and rapamycin decreased L-aspartate levels compared to the control (p = 0.006). Metformin alone did not affect L-aspartate levels. However, L-asparagine levels decreased with all treatment groups compared to the control (p = 0.03). On the contrary, L-glutamate and glycine levels were reduced only by mTORC1/mTORC2 inhibitors RapaLink-1 and Torin-2, but not by rapamycin or metformin. The metabolic activity network model predicted that L-aspartate and AMP interact within the same activity network. Live-cell bioenergetics revealed that ATP production was significantly reduced in RapaLink-1 (122.23 + 33.19), Torin-2 (72.37 + 17.33) treated cells, compared to rapamycin (250.45 + 9.41) and the vehicle control (274.23 + 38.17), p < 0.01. However, non-mitochondrial oxygen consumption was not statistically different between RapaLink-1 (67.17 + 3.52), Torin-2 (55.93 + 8.76), or rapamycin (80.01 + 4.36, p = 0.006).
CONCLUSIONS: Dual mTORC1/mTORC2 inhibition by RapaLink-1 and Torin-2 differentially altered the amino acid profile and decreased mitochondrial respiration compared to rapamycin treatment which only blocks the FRB domain on mTOR. Third-generation mTOR inhibitors may alter the mitochondrial dynamics and reveal a bioenergetics profile that could be targeted to reduce mitochondrial stress.