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The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is an atypical serine/threonine kinase that is present in two distinct complexes. mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) is composed of mTOR, Raptor, GβL (mLST8), and Deptor and is partially inhibited by rapamycin. mTORC1 integrates multiple signals reflecting the availability of growth factors, nutrients, or energy to promote either cellular growth when conditions are favorable or catabolic processes during stress or when conditions are unfavorable. Growth factors and hormones (e.g. insulin) signal to mTORC1 via Akt, which inactivates TSC2 to prevent inhibition of mTORC1. Alternatively, low ATP levels lead to the AMPK-dependent activation of TSC2 and phosphorylation of raptor to reduce mTORC1 signaling. Amino acid availability is signaled to mTORC1 via a pathway involving the Rag and Ragulator (LAMTOR1-3) proteins. Active mTORC1 has a number of downstream biological effects including translation of mRNA via the phosphorylation of downstream targets (4E-BP1 and p70 S6 Kinase), suppression of autophagy (Atg13, ULK1), ribosome biogenesis, and activation of transcription leading to mitochondrial metabolism or adipogenesis. The mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2) is composed of mTOR, Rictor, GβL, Sin1, PRR5/Protor-1, and Deptor and promotes cellular survival by activating Akt. mTORC2 also regulates cytoskeletal dynamics by activating PKCα and regulates ion transport and growth via SGK1 phosphorylation. Aberrant mTOR signaling is involved in many disease states including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic disorders.
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We would like to thank Carson Thoreen and Prof. David Sabatini, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, MIT, Cambridge, MA, for reviewing this diagram.
created September 2008
revised November 2012