ARTICLE ABSTRACTSarcomatoid metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) is associated with a poor prognosis, and the biology of the disease has been inadequately characterized. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) was performed on adjacent benign, clear cell, and sarcomatoid components from clinical specimens with sarcomatoid mRCC. M phase and cell-cycle pathways were enriched in sarcomatoid versus adjacent clear cell components, suggesting greater cell proliferation. The expression of aurora kinase A (AURKA) was increased as part of these pathways, and its increased expression was validated by quantitative PCR (qPCR). Immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis revealed that AURKA levels were increased in sarcomatoid tissue compared with their benign or clear cell parts. The increase in AURKA correlated with increased mTOR pathway activity, as evidenced by increased expression of phosphorylated mTOR (S2448) and ribosomal protein S6K (T389). When AURKA was stably expressed in a RCC cell line (Renca), it resulted in increased expression and activity of mTOR, suggesting that overexpression of AURKA can activate the mTOR pathway. These results warrant the analysis of a larger clinical cohort and suggest that targeting AURKA and/or mTOR in patients with sarcomatoid mRCC should be explored.Implications: Comparative RNA-seq of adjacent sarcomatoid and clear cell histology of RCC indicates a proliferative phenotype and increased AURKA-dependent activation of mTOR signaling in sarcomatoid RCC, which could be targeted by available agents. Mol Cancer Res; 13(1); 130–7. ©2014 AACR.