BACKGROUND: Renal cell carcinomas (RCC) harboring a TFE3 gene fusion (TfRCC) represent an aggressive subset of kidney tumors. Key signaling pathways of TfRCC are unknown and preclinical in vivo data are lacking. We investigated Akt/mTOR pathway activation and the preclinical efficacy of dual mTORC1/2 versus selective mTORC1 inhibition in TfRCC. METHODS: Levels of phosphorylated Akt/mTOR pathway proteins were compared by immunoblot in TfRCC and clear cell RCC (ccRCC) cell lines. Effects of the mTORC1 inhibitor, sirolimus, and the dual mTORC1/2 inhibitor, AZD8055, on Akt/mTOR activation, cell cycle progression, cell viability and cytotoxicity were compared in TfRCC cells. TfRCC xenograft tumor growth in mice was evaluated after 3-week treatment with oral AZD8055, intraperitoneal sirolimus and respective vehicle controls. RESULTS: The Akt/mTOR pathway was activated to a similar or greater degree in TfRCC than ccRCC cell lines and persisted partly during growth factor starvation, suggesting constitutive activation. Dual mTORC1/2 inhibition with AZD8055 potently inhibited TfRCC viability (IC50 = 20-50 nM) due at least in part to cell cycle arrest, while benign renal epithelial cells were relatively resistant (IC50 = 400 nM). Maximal viability reduction was greater with AZD8055 than sirolimus (80-90% versus 30-50%), as was the extent of Akt/mTOR pathway inhibition, based on significantly greater suppression of P-Akt (Ser473), P-4EBP1, P-mTOR and HIF1α. In mouse xenograft models, AZD8055 achieved significantly better tumor growth inhibition and prolonged mouse survival compared to sirolimus or vehicle controls. CONCLUSIONS: Akt/mTOR activation is common in TfRCC and a promising therapeutic target. Dual mTORC1/2 inhibition suppresses Akt/mTOR signaling more effectively than selective mTORC1 inhibition and demonstrates in vivo preclinical efficacy against TFE3-fusion renal cell carcinoma.