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1.  Nutrient ingestion increased mTOR signaling, but not hVps34 activity in human skeletal muscle after sprint exercise 
Physiological Reports  2013;1(5):e00076.
Nutrient provision after sprint exercise enhances mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling. One suggested that nutrient sensor is the class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, vacuolar protein sorting 34 (Vps34), not previously studied in human skeletal muscle. It is hypothesized that oral ingestion of essential amino acids (EAA) and carbohydrates (Carb) increases Vps34 activity and mTOR signaling in human skeletal (hVps34) muscle after sprint exercise. Nine subjects were performed 3 × 30-sec all-out sprints with or without ingestion of EAA + Carb or placebo drinks in a randomized order with a month interval. Muscle biopsies were performed at rest and 140 min after last sprint and analyzed for p-mTOR, p-p70S6k, p-eEF2 and for hVps34 activity and hVps34 protein content. Venous blood samples were collected and analyzed for amino acids, glucose, lactate, and insulin. During the sprint exercise session, EAA, glucose, and insulin in blood increased significantly more in EAA + Carb than in placebo. P-mTOR and p-p70S6k were significantly increased above rest in EAA + Carb (P = 0.03, P = 0.007) 140 min after last sprint, but not in placebo. Activity and protein expression of hVps34 were not significantly changed from rest in EAA + Carb 140 min after the last sprint. However, hVps34 activity and protein expression tended to increase in placebo (both P = 0.08). In conclusion, on the contrary to the hypothesis, no increase in activation of hVps34 was found following sprint exercise in EAA + Carb condition. In spite of this, the results support an activation of mTOR during this condition. However, this does not exclude the permissive role of hVps34 in mediating the amino acid-induced activation of mTOR and muscle protein synthesis.
doi:10.1002/phy2.76
PMCID: PMC3841023  PMID: 24303161
Amino acids; hormones; human; skeletal muscle; Western blot; Wingate test
2.  Leucine acts as a nutrient signal to stimulate protein synthesis in neonatal pigs 
Journal of Animal Science  2010;89(7):2004-2016.
The postprandial rise in amino acids and insulin independently stimulate protein synthesis in skeletal muscle of piglets. Leucine is an important mediator of the response to amino acids. We have shown that the postprandial rise in leucine, but not isoleucine or valine, acutely stimulates muscle protein synthesis in piglets. Leucine increases muscle protein synthesis by modulating the activation of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) and signaling components of translation initiation. Leucine increases the phosphorylation of mTOR, 70-kDa ribosomal protein S6 kinase-1 (S6K1), eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4E-binding protein-1 (4EBP1), and eIF4G, decreases eIF2α phosphorylation, and increases the association of eIF4E with eIF4G. However, leucine does not affect the upstream activators of mTOR, that is, protein kinase B (PKB), adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase (AMPK), and tuberous sclerosis complex 1/2 (TSC1/2), or the activation translation of elongation regulator, eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2). Leucine’s action can be replicated by α-ketoisocaproate (KIC) but not by norleucine. Interference by rapamycin with the raptor-mTOR interaction blocks leucine-induced muscle protein synthesis. The acute leucine-induced stimulation of muscle protein synthesis is not maintained for prolonged periods, despite continued activation of mTOR signaling, because circulating amino acids fall as they are utilized for protein synthesis. However, when circulating amino acid levels are maintained, the leucine-induced stimulation of muscle protein synthesis is maintained for prolonged periods. Thus, leucine acts as a nutrient signal to stimulate translation initiation but whether this translates into a prolonged increase in protein synthesis depends on the sustained availability of all amino acids.
doi:10.2527/jas.2010-3400
PMCID: PMC3322509  PMID: 20935141
amino acids; leucine; muscle; newborn; pig; translation initiation
3.  Amino acids and insulin act additively to regulate components of the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway in C2C12 myotubes 
Background
The ubiquitin-proteasome system is the predominant pathway for myofibrillar proteolysis but a previous study in C2C12 myotubes only observed alterations in lysosome-dependent proteolysis in response to complete starvation of amino acids or leucine from the media. Here, we determined the interaction between insulin and amino acids in the regulation of myotube proteolysis
Results
Incubation of C2C12 myotubes with 0.2 × physiological amino acids concentration (0.2 × PC AA), relative to 1.0 × PC AA, significantly increased total proteolysis and the expression of 14-kDa E2 ubiquitin conjugating enzyme (p < 0.05). The proteasome inhibitor MG132 blocked the rise in proteolysis observed in the 0.2 × PC AA media. Addition of insulin to the medium inhibited proteolysis at both 0.2 and 1.0× PC AA and the expression of 14-kDa E2 proteins and C2 sub unit of 20 S proteasome (p < 0.05). Incubation of myotubes with increasing concentrations of leucine in the 0.2 × PC AA media inhibited proteolysis but only in the presence of insulin. Incubation of rapamycin (inhibitor of mTOR) inhibited amino acid or insulin-dependent p70 S6 kinase phosphorylation, blocked (P < 0.05) the inhibitory effects of 1.0 × PC AA on protein degradation, but did not alter the inhibitory effects of insulin or leucine
Conclusion
In a C2C12 myotube model of myofibrillar protein turnover, amino acid limitation increases proteolysis in a ubiquitin-proteasome-dependent manner. Increasing amino acids or leucine alone, act additively with insulin to down regulate proteolysis and expression of components of ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. The effects of amino acids on proteolysis but not insulin and leucine, are blocked by inhibition of the mTOR signalling pathway.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-8-23
PMCID: PMC1845170  PMID: 17371596
4.  Downregulation of AMPK Accompanies Leucine- and Glucose-Induced Increases in Protein Synthesis and Insulin Resistance in Rat Skeletal Muscle 
Diabetes  2010;59(10):2426-2434.
OBJECTIVE
Branched-chain amino acids, such as leucine and glucose, stimulate protein synthesis and increase the phosphorylation and activity of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and its downstream target p70S6 kinase (p70S6K). We examined in skeletal muscle whether the effects of leucine and glucose on these parameters and on insulin resistance are mediated by the fuel-sensing enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Rat extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscle was incubated with different concentrations of leucine and glucose with or without AMPK activators. Muscle obtained from glucose-infused rats was also used as a model.
RESULTS
In the EDL, incubation with 100 or 200 μmol/l leucine versus no added leucine suppressed the activity of the α2 isoform of AMPK by 50 and 70%, respectively, and caused concentration-dependent increases in protein synthesis and mTOR and p70S6K phosphorylation. Very similar changes were observed in EDL incubated with 5.5 or 25 mmol/l versus no added glucose and in muscle of rats infused with glucose in vivo. Incubation of the EDL with the higher concentrations of both leucine and glucose also caused insulin resistance, reflected by a decrease in insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation. Coincubation with the AMPK activators AICAR and α-lipoic acid substantially prevented all of those changes and increased the phosphorylation of specific sites of mTOR inhibitors raptor and tuberous sclerosis complex 2 (TSC2). In contrast, decreases in AMPK activity induced by leucine and glucose were not associated with a decrease in raptor or TSC2 phosphorylation.
CONCLUSIONS
The results indicate that both leucine and glucose modulate protein synthesis and mTOR/p70S6 and insulin signaling in skeletal muscle by a common mechanism. They also suggest that the effects of both molecules are associated with a decrease in AMPK activity and that AMPK activation prevents them.
doi:10.2337/db09-1870
PMCID: PMC3279521  PMID: 20682696
5.  Differential effects of long-term leucine infusion on tissue protein synthesis in neonatal pigs 
Amino acids  2010;40(1):157-165.
Leucine is unique among the amino acids in its ability to promote protein synthesis by activating translation initiation via the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. Previously, we showed that leucine infusion acutely stimulates protein synthesis in fast-twitch glycolytic muscle of neonatal pigs but this response cannot be maintained unless the leucine-induced fall in amino acids is prevented. To determine whether leucine can stimulate protein synthesis in muscles of different fiber types and in visceral tissues of the neonate in the long-term if baseline amino acid concentrations are maintained, overnight fasted neonatal pigs were infused for 24 h with saline, leucine (400 μmol kg−1 h−1), or leucine with replacement amino acids to prevent the leucine-induced hypoaminoacidemia. Changes in the fractional rate of protein synthesis and activation of mTOR, as determined by eukaryotic initiation factor 4E binding protein (4E-BP1) and S6 kinase 1 (S6K1) phosphorylation, in the gastrocnemius and masseter muscles, heart, liver, jejunum, kidney, and pancreas were measured. Leucine increased mTOR activation in the gastrocnemius and masseter muscles, liver, and pancreas, in both the absence and presence of amino acid replacement. However, protein synthesis in these tissues was increased only when amino acids were infused to maintain baseline levels. There were no changes in mTOR signaling or protein synthesis in the other tissues we examined. Thus, long-term infusion of leucine stimulates mTOR signaling in skeletal muscle and some visceral tissues but the leucine-induced stimulation of protein synthesis in these tissues requires sustained amino acid availability.
doi:10.1007/s00726-010-0629-9
PMCID: PMC3139360  PMID: 20505962
Growth; Muscle; Translation initiation; Mammalian target of rapamycin; Eukaryotic initiation factor 4E binding protein; Ribosome protein S6 kinase
6.  Differential effect of long-term leucine supplementation on skeletal muscle and adipose tissue in old rats: an insulin signaling pathway approach 
Age  2011;34(2):371-387.
Leucine acts as a signal nutrient in promoting protein synthesis in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue via mTOR pathway activation, and may be of interest in age-related sarcopenia. However, hyper-activation of mTOR/S6K1 has been suggested to inhibit the first steps of insulin signaling and finally promote insulin resistance. The impact of long-term dietary leucine supplementation on insulin signaling and sensitivity was investigated in old rats (18 months old) fed a 15% protein diet supplemented (LEU group) or not (C group) with 4.5% leucine for 6 months. The resulting effects on muscle and fat were examined. mTOR/S6K1 signaling pathway was not significantly altered in muscle from old rats subjected to long-term dietary leucine excess, whereas it was increased in adipose tissue. Overall glucose tolerance was not changed but insulin-stimulated glucose transport was improved in muscles from leucine-supplemented rats related to improvement in Akt expression and phosphorylation in response to food intake. No change in skeletal muscle mass was observed, whereas perirenal adipose tissue mass accumulated (+45%) in leucine-supplemented rats. A prolonged leucine supplementation in old rats differently modulates mTOR/S6K pathways in muscle and adipose tissue. It does not increase muscle mass but seems to promote hypertrophy and hyperplasia of adipose tissue that did not result in insulin resistance.
doi:10.1007/s11357-011-9246-0
PMCID: PMC3312629  PMID: 21472380
Leucine supplementation; Sarcopenia; Muscle; Adipose tissue; Insulin signaling
7.  Stimulation of mTORC1 with L-leucine Rescues Defects Associated with Roberts Syndrome 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003857.
Roberts syndrome (RBS) is a human disease characterized by defects in limb and craniofacial development and growth and mental retardation. RBS is caused by mutations in ESCO2, a gene which encodes an acetyltransferase for the cohesin complex. While the essential role of the cohesin complex in chromosome segregation has been well characterized, it plays additional roles in DNA damage repair, chromosome condensation, and gene expression. The developmental phenotypes of Roberts syndrome and other cohesinopathies suggest that gene expression is impaired during embryogenesis. It was previously reported that ribosomal RNA production and protein translation were impaired in immortalized RBS cells. It was speculated that cohesin binding at the rDNA was important for nucleolar form and function. We have explored the hypothesis that reduced ribosome function contributes to RBS in zebrafish models and human cells. Two key pathways that sense cellular stress are the p53 and mTOR pathways. We report that mTOR signaling is inhibited in human RBS cells based on the reduced phosphorylation of the downstream effectors S6K1, S6 and 4EBP1, and this correlates with p53 activation. Nucleoli, the sites of ribosome production, are highly fragmented in RBS cells. We tested the effect of inhibiting p53 or stimulating mTOR in RBS cells. The rescue provided by mTOR activation was more significant, with activation rescuing both cell division and cell death. To study this cohesinopathy in a whole animal model we used ESCO2-mutant and morphant zebrafish embryos, which have developmental defects mimicking RBS. Consistent with RBS patient cells, the ESCO2 mutant embryos show p53 activation and inhibition of the TOR pathway. Stimulation of the TOR pathway with L-leucine rescued many developmental defects of ESCO2-mutant embryos. Our data support the idea that RBS can be attributed in part to defects in ribosome biogenesis, and stimulation of the TOR pathway has therapeutic potential.
Author Summary
Roberts syndrome is a human developmental disorder caused by mutations in the ESCO2 gene. This gene encodes an acetyltransferase that acetylates the cohesin ring complex to promote a locked configuration. The cohesin complex binds to many locations on chromosomes and mutations that affect its function result in changes in gene expression. In fact, Roberts syndrome and other diseases caused by mutations in cohesin are associated with differential gene expression. We wanted to understand how mutations in ESCO2 affect two important molecular pathways that detect cellular stress, the p53 and mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathways. We report that mutations in ESCO2 are associated with p53 activation and inhibition of mTOR in human cells and zebrafish. We tested the rescue effect of p53 inhibition and mTOR activation on human Roberts syndrome cells and zebrafish models for Roberts syndrome. While both treatments displayed rescue effects, the activation of mTOR provided more significant rescue. Our work suggests that stimulation of the mTOR pathway with the amino acid L-leucine has therapeutic potential for Roberts syndrome. In addition, our work suggests that some of the differential gene expression in Roberts syndrome may be explained by translational inhibition connected with the inhibition of the mTOR pathway.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003857
PMCID: PMC3789817  PMID: 24098154
8.  Nutritionally essential amino acids and metabolic signaling in aging 
Amino acids  2012;45(3):431-441.
Aging is associated with a gradual decline in skeletal muscle mass and strength leading to increased risk for functional impairments. Although basal rates of protein synthesis and degradation are largely unaffected with age, the sensitivity of older muscle cells to the anabolic actions of essential amino acids appears to decline. The major pathway through which essential amino acids induce anabolic responses involves the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) Complex 1, a signaling pathway that is especially sensitive to regulation by the branched chain amino acid leucine. Recent evidence suggests that muscle of older individuals require increasing concentrations of leucine to maintain robust anabolic responses through the mTOR pathway. While the exact mechanisms for the age related alterations in nutritional signaling through the mTOR pathway remain elusive, there is increasing evidence that decreased sensitivity to insulin action, reductions in endothelial function, and increased oxidative stress may be underlying factors in this decrease in anabolic sensitivity. Ensuring adequate nutrition, including sources of high quality protein, and promoting regular physical activity will remain among the frontline defenses against the onset of sarcopenia in older individuals.
doi:10.1007/s00726-012-1438-0
PMCID: PMC3618985  PMID: 23239011
Skeletal muscle; protein synthesis; anabolic resistance
9.  The Catalytic Subunit of the System L1 Amino Acid Transporter (Slc7a5) Facilitates Nutrient Signalling in Mouse Skeletal Muscle 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89547.
The System L1-type amino acid transporter mediates transport of large neutral amino acids (LNAA) in many mammalian cell-types. LNAA such as leucine are required for full activation of the mTOR-S6K signalling pathway promoting protein synthesis and cell growth. The SLC7A5 (LAT1) catalytic subunit of high-affinity System L1 functions as a glycoprotein-associated heterodimer with the multifunctional protein SLC3A2 (CD98). We generated a floxed Slc7a5 mouse strain which, when crossed with mice expressing Cre driven by a global promoter, produced Slc7a5 heterozygous knockout (Slc7a5+/−) animals with no overt phenotype, although homozygous global knockout of Slc7a5 was embryonically lethal. Muscle-specific (MCK Cre-mediated) Slc7a5 knockout (MS-Slc7a5-KO) mice were used to study the role of intracellular LNAA delivery by the SLC7A5 transporter for mTOR-S6K pathway activation in skeletal muscle. Activation of muscle mTOR-S6K (Thr389 phosphorylation) in vivo by intraperitoneal leucine injection was blunted in homozygous MS-Slc7a5-KO mice relative to wild-type animals. Dietary intake and growth rate were similar for MS-Slc7a5-KO mice and wild-type littermates fed for 10 weeks (to age 120 days) with diets containing 10%, 20% or 30% of protein. In MS-Slc7a5-KO mice, Leu and Ile concentrations in gastrocnemius muscle were reduced by ∼40% as dietary protein content was reduced from 30 to 10%. These changes were associated with >50% decrease in S6K Thr389 phosphorylation in muscles from MS-Slc7a5-KO mice, indicating reduced mTOR-S6K pathway activation, despite no significant differences in lean tissue mass between groups on the same diet. MS-Slc7a5-KO mice on 30% protein diet exhibited mild insulin resistance (e.g. reduced glucose clearance, larger gonadal adipose depots) relative to control animals. Thus, SLC7A5 modulates LNAA-dependent muscle mTOR-S6K signalling in mice, although it appears non-essential (or is sufficiently compensated by e.g. SLC7A8 (LAT2)) for maintenance of normal muscle mass.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089547
PMCID: PMC3935884  PMID: 24586861
10.  Effects of leucine and its metabolite β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate on human skeletal muscle protein metabolism 
The Journal of Physiology  2013;591(11):2911-2923.
Maintenance of skeletal muscle mass is contingent upon the dynamic equilibrium (fasted losses–fed gains) in protein turnover. Of all nutrients, the single amino acid leucine (Leu) possesses the most marked anabolic characteristics in acting as a trigger element for the initiation of protein synthesis. While the mechanisms by which Leu is ‘sensed’ have been the subject of great scrutiny, as a branched-chain amino acid, Leu can be catabolized within muscle, thus posing the possibility that metabolites of Leu could be involved in mediating the anabolic effect(s) of Leu. Our objective was to measure muscle protein anabolism in response to Leu and its metabolite HMB. Using [1,2-13C2]Leu and [2H5]phenylalanine tracers, and GC-MS/GC-C-IRMS we studied the effect of HMB or Leu alone on MPS (by tracer incorporation into myofibrils), and for HMB we also measured muscle proteolysis (by arteriovenous (A–V) dilution). Orally consumed 3.42 g free-acid (FA-HMB) HMB (providing 2.42 g of pure HMB) exhibited rapid bioavailability in plasma and muscle and, similarly to 3.42 g Leu, stimulated muscle protein synthesis (MPS; HMB +70%vs. Leu +110%). While HMB and Leu both increased anabolic signalling (mechanistic target of rapamycin; mTOR), this was more pronounced with Leu (i.e. p70S6K1 signalling ≤90 min vs. ≤30 min for HMB). HMB consumption also attenuated muscle protein breakdown (MPB; −57%) in an insulin-independent manner. We conclude that exogenous HMB induces acute muscle anabolism (increased MPS and reduced MPB) albeit perhaps via distinct, and/or additional mechanism(s) to Leu.
doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2013.253203
PMCID: PMC3690694  PMID: 23551944
11.  Effects of leucine and its metabolite β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate on human skeletal muscle protein metabolism 
The Journal of Physiology  2013;591(Pt 11):2911-2923.
Maintenance of skeletal muscle mass is contingent upon the dynamic equilibrium (fasted losses–fed gains) in protein turnover. Of all nutrients, the single amino acid leucine (Leu) possesses the most marked anabolic characteristics in acting as a trigger element for the initiation of protein synthesis. While the mechanisms by which Leu is ‘sensed’ have been the subject of great scrutiny, as a branched-chain amino acid, Leu can be catabolized within muscle, thus posing the possibility that metabolites of Leu could be involved in mediating the anabolic effect(s) of Leu. Our objective was to measure muscle protein anabolism in response to Leu and its metabolite HMB. Using [1,2-13C2]Leu and [2H5]phenylalanine tracers, and GC-MS/GC-C-IRMS we studied the effect of HMB or Leu alone on MPS (by tracer incorporation into myofibrils), and for HMB we also measured muscle proteolysis (by arteriovenous (A–V) dilution). Orally consumed 3.42 g free-acid (FA-HMB) HMB (providing 2.42 g of pure HMB) exhibited rapid bioavailability in plasma and muscle and, similarly to 3.42 g Leu, stimulated muscle protein synthesis (MPS; HMB +70%vs. Leu +110%). While HMB and Leu both increased anabolic signalling (mechanistic target of rapamycin; mTOR), this was more pronounced with Leu (i.e. p70S6K1 signalling ≤90 min vs. ≤30 min for HMB). HMB consumption also attenuated muscle protein breakdown (MPB; −57%) in an insulin-independent manner. We conclude that exogenous HMB induces acute muscle anabolism (increased MPS and reduced MPB) albeit perhaps via distinct, and/or additional mechanism(s) to Leu.
doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2013.253203
PMCID: PMC3690694  PMID: 23551944
12.  Mechanical Stimulation Induces mTOR Signaling via an ERK-Independent Mechanism: Implications for a Direct Activation of mTOR by Phosphatidic Acid 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47258.
Signaling by mTOR is a well-recognized component of the pathway through which mechanical signals regulate protein synthesis and muscle mass. However, the mechanisms involved in the mechanical regulation of mTOR signaling have not been defined. Nevertheless, recent studies suggest that a mechanically-induced increase in phosphatidic acid (PA) may be involved. There is also evidence which suggests that mechanical stimuli, and PA, utilize ERK to induce mTOR signaling. Hence, we reasoned that a mechanically-induced increase in PA might promote mTOR signaling via an ERK-dependent mechanism. To test this, we subjected mouse skeletal muscles to mechanical stimulation in the presence or absence of a MEK/ERK inhibitor, and then measured several commonly used markers of mTOR signaling. Transgenic mice expressing a rapamycin-resistant mutant of mTOR were also used to confirm the validity of these markers. The results demonstrated that mechanically-induced increases in p70s6k T389 and 4E-BP1 S64 phosphorylation, and unexpectedly, a loss in total 4E-BP1, were fully mTOR-dependent signaling events. Furthermore, we determined that mechanical stimulation induced these mTOR-dependent events, and protein synthesis, through an ERK-independent mechanism. Similar to mechanical stimulation, exogenous PA also induced mTOR-dependent signaling via an ERK-independent mechanism. Moreover, PA was able to directly activate mTOR signaling in vitro. Combined, these results demonstrate that mechanical stimulation induces mTOR signaling, and protein synthesis, via an ERK-independent mechanism that potentially involves a direct interaction of PA with mTOR. Furthermore, it appears that a decrease in total 4E-BP1 may be part of the mTOR-dependent mechanism through which mechanical stimuli activate protein synthesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047258
PMCID: PMC3471816  PMID: 23077579
13.  Testosterone regulation of Akt/mTORC1/FoxO3a Signaling in Skeletal Muscle 
Low endogenous testosterone production, known as hypogonadism is commonly associated with conditions inducing muscle wasting. Akt signaling can control skeletal muscle mass through mTOR regulation of protein synthesis and FoxO regulation of protein degradation, and this pathway has been previously identified as a target of androgen signaling. However, the testosterone sensitivity of Akt/mTOR signaling requires further understanding in order to grasp the significance of varied testosterone levels seen with wasting disease on muscle protein turnover regulation. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to determine the effect of androgen availability on muscle Akt/mTORC1/FoxO3a regulation in skeletal muscle and cultured C2C12 myotubes. C57BL/6 mice were either castrated for 42 days or castrated and treated with the nandrolone decanoate (ND) (6 mg/kg bw/wk). Testosterone loss (TL) significantly decreased volitional grip strength, body weight, and gastrocnemius (GAS) muscle mass, and ND reversed these changes. Related to muscle mass regulation, TL decreased muscle IGF-1 mRNA, the rate of myofibrillar protein synthesis, Akt phosphorylation, and the phosphorylation of Akt targets, GSK3β, PRAS40 and FoxO3a. TL induced expression of FoxO transcriptional targets, MuRF1, atrogin1 and REDD1. Muscle AMPK and raptor phosphorylation, mTOR inhibitors, were not altered by low testosterone. ND restored IGF-1 expression and Akt/mTORC1 signaling while repressing expression of FoxO transcriptional targets. Testosterone (T) sensitivity of Akt/mTORC1 signaling was examined in C2C12 myotubes, and mTOR phosphorylation was induced independent of Akt activation at low T concentrations, while a higher T concentration was required to activate Akt signaling. Interestingly, low concentration T was sufficient to amplify myotube mTOR and Akt signaling after 24h of T withdrawal, demonstrating the potential in cultured myotubes for a T initiated positive feedback mechanism to amplify Akt/mTOR signaling. In summary, androgen withdrawal decreases muscle myofibrillar protein synthesis through Akt/mTORC1 signaling, which is independent of AMPK activation, and readily reversible by anabolic steroid administration. Acute Akt activation in C2C12 myotubes is sensitive to a high concentration of testosterone, and low concentrations of testosterone can activate mTOR signaling independent of Akt.
doi:10.1016/j.mce.2012.10.019
PMCID: PMC3529800  PMID: 23116773
Muscle; Testosterone; raptor; Akt; mTOR; AMPK; FoxO; REDD1; MuRF1; atrophy; IGF-1; castration
14.  Active-Site Inhibitors of mTOR Target Rapamycin-Resistant Outputs of mTORC1 and mTORC2 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(2):e1000038.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) regulates cell growth and survival by integrating nutrient and hormonal signals. These signaling functions are distributed between at least two distinct mTOR protein complexes: mTORC1 and mTORC2. mTORC1 is sensitive to the selective inhibitor rapamycin and activated by growth factor stimulation via the canonical phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)→Akt→mTOR pathway. Activated mTORC1 kinase up-regulates protein synthesis by phosphorylating key regulators of mRNA translation. By contrast, mTORC2 is resistant to rapamycin. Genetic studies have suggested that mTORC2 may phosphorylate Akt at S473, one of two phosphorylation sites required for Akt activation; this has been controversial, in part because RNA interference and gene knockouts produce distinct Akt phospho-isoforms. The central role of mTOR in controlling key cellular growth and survival pathways has sparked interest in discovering mTOR inhibitors that bind to the ATP site and therefore target both mTORC2 and mTORC1. We investigated mTOR signaling in cells and animals with two novel and specific mTOR kinase domain inhibitors (TORKinibs). Unlike rapamycin, these TORKinibs (PP242 and PP30) inhibit mTORC2, and we use them to show that pharmacological inhibition of mTOR blocks the phosphorylation of Akt at S473 and prevents its full activation. Furthermore, we show that TORKinibs inhibit proliferation of primary cells more completely than rapamycin. Surprisingly, we find that mTORC2 is not the basis for this enhanced activity, and we show that the TORKinib PP242 is a more effective mTORC1 inhibitor than rapamycin. Importantly, at the molecular level, PP242 inhibits cap-dependent translation under conditions in which rapamycin has no effect. Our findings identify new functional features of mTORC1 that are resistant to rapamycin but are effectively targeted by TORKinibs. These potent new pharmacological agents complement rapamycin in the study of mTOR and its role in normal physiology and human disease.
Author Summary
Growth factor pathways are required for normal development but are often inappropriately activated in many cancers. One growth-factor–sensitive pathway of increasing interest to cancer researchers relies on the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a kinase that (like all kinases) delivers phosphate groups from ATP to amino acid residues of downstream proteins. TOR proteins were first discovered in yeast as the cellular targets of rapamycin, a small, naturally occurring molecule derived from bacteria that is widely used as an immunosuppressant and more recently in some cancer therapies. The study of TOR proteins has relied heavily on the use of rapamycin, but rapamycin does not directly inhibit TOR kinase activity; rather, rapamycin influences TOR's enzymatic activities by binding to a domain far from the kinase's active site. Some mTOR functions are resistant to rapamycin, as a result of the kinase activity of one kind of multiprotein complex, the mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2), whereas rapamycin-sensitive functions of mTOR are due to the mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1). We have developed new inhibitors of mTOR that bind to the ATP-binding site of mTOR and inhibit the catalytic activity of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 without inhibiting other kinases. Unexpectedly, these inhibitors had profound effects on protein synthesis and cell proliferation due to their inhibition of mTORC1 rather than mTORC2. We found that the phosphorylation of a protein that controls protein synthesis, the mTORC1 substrate 4E binding protein (4EBP) is partially resistant to rapamycin but fully inhibited by our new inhibitors. The finding that 4EBP phosphorylation is resistant to rapamycin suggests that active-site inhibitors may be more effective than rapamycin in the treatment of cancer and may explain why rapamycin is so well tolerated when taken for immunosuppression.
Cells rely on the mammalian target of rapamycin kinase (mTOR) to sense growth factors. Inhibition of all forms of mTOR using newly developed inhibitors of its active site reveals new insights into the function of two mTOR-containing protein complexes and their potential as therapeutic targets.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000038
PMCID: PMC2637922  PMID: 19209957
15.  Differential regulation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle and liver of neonatal pigs by leucine through an mTORC1-dependent pathway 
Neonatal growth is characterized by a high protein synthesis rate that is largely due to an enhanced sensitivity to the postprandial rise in insulin and amino acids, especially leucine. The mechanism of leucine’s action in vivo is not well understood. In this study, we investigated the effect of leucine infusion on protein synthesis in skeletal muscle and liver of neonatal pigs. To evaluate the mode of action of leucine, we used rapamycin, an inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex-1 (mTORC1). Overnight-fasted 7-day-old piglets were treated with rapamycin for 1 hour and then infused with leucine (400 μmol·kg−1·h−1) for 1 hour. Leucine infusion increased the rate of protein synthesis, and ribosomal protein S6 kinase 1 (S6K1) and eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4E-binding protein-1 (4E-BP1) phosphorylation in gastrocnemius and masseter muscles (P < 0.05), but not in the liver. The leucine-induced stimulation of protein synthesis and S6K1 and 4E-BP1 phosphorylation were completely blocked by rapamycin, suggesting that leucine action is by an mTORC1-dependent mechanism. Neither leucine nor rapamycin had any effect on the activation of the upstream mTORC1 regulators, AMP-activated protein kinase and protein kinase B, in skeletal muscle or liver. The activation of eIF2α and elongation factor 2 was not affected by leucine or rapamycin, indicating that these two pathways are not limiting steps of leucine-induced protein synthesis. These results suggest that leucine stimulates muscle protein synthesis in neonatal pigs by inducing the activation of mTORC1 and its downstream pathway leading to mRNA translation.
doi:10.1186/2049-1891-3-3
PMCID: PMC3366465  PMID: 22675606
leucine; mTORC1; neonatal pigs; rapamycin; skeletal muscle
16.  The Late Endosome is Essential for mTORC1 Signaling 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(5):833-841.
Recent work suggests a link between endocytic trafficking and mTORC1 signaling. This paper demonstrates a specific requirement for the integrity of the late endosomal compartment for amino acid and insulin-stimulated mTORC1 signaling to downstream effectors.
The multisubunit mTORC1 complex integrates signals from growth factors and nutrients to regulate protein synthesis, cell growth, and autophagy. To examine how endocytic trafficking might be involved in nutrient regulation of mTORC1, we perturbed specific endocytic trafficking pathways and measured mTORC1 activity using S6K1 as a readout. When early/late endosomal conversion was blocked by either overexpression of constitutively active Rab5 (Rab5CA) or knockdown of the Rab7 GEF hVps39, insulin- and amino acid–stimulated mTORC1/S6K1 activation were inhibited, and mTOR localized to hybrid early/late endosomes. Inhibition of other stages of endocytic trafficking had no effect on mTORC1. Overexpression of Rheb, which activates mTOR independently of mTOR localization, rescued mTORC1 signaling in cells expressing Rab5CA, whereas hyperactivation of endogenous Rheb in TSC2−/− MEFs did not. These data suggest that integrity of late endosomes is essential for amino acid– and insulin-stimulated mTORC1 signaling and that blocking the early/late endosomal conversion prevents mTOR from interacting with Rheb in the late endosomal compartment.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E09-09-0756
PMCID: PMC2828969  PMID: 20053679
17.  Differential regulation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle and liver of neonatal pigs by leucine through an mTORC1-dependent pathway 
Neonatal growth is characterized by a high protein synthesis rate that is largely due to an enhanced sensitivity to the postprandial rise in insulin and amino acids, especially leucine. The mechanism of leucine's action in vivo is not well understood. In this study, we investigated the effect of leucine infusion on protein synthesis in skeletal muscle and liver of neonatal pigs. To evaluate the mode of action of leucine, we used rapamycin, an inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex-1 (mTORC1). Overnight-fasted 7-day-old piglets were treated with rapamycin for 1 hour and then infused with leucine (400 μmol·kg-1·h-1) for 1 hour. Leucine infusion increased the rate of protein synthesis, and ribosomal protein S6 kinase 1 (S6K1) and eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4E-binding protein-1 (4E-BP1) phosphorylation in gastrocnemius and masseter muscles (P < 0.05), but not in the liver. The leucine-induced stimulation of protein synthesis and S6K1 and 4E-BP1 phosphorylation were completely blocked by rapamycin, suggesting that leucine action is by an mTORC1-dependent mechanism. Neither leucine nor rapamycin had any effect on the activation of the upstream mTORC1 regulators, AMP-activated protein kinase and protein kinase B, in skeletal muscle or liver. The activation of eIF2α and elongation factor 2 was not affected by leucine or rapamycin, indicating that these two pathways are not limiting steps of leucine-induced protein synthesis. These results suggest that leucine stimulates muscle protein synthesis in neonatal pigs by inducing the activation of mTORC1 and its downstream pathway leading to mRNA translation.
doi:10.1186/2049-1891-3-3
PMCID: PMC3366465  PMID: 22675606
leucine; mTORC1; neonatal pigs; rapamycin; skeletal muscle
18.  hVps15, but not Ca2+/CaM, is required for the activity and regulation of hVps34 in mammalian cells 
Biochemical Journal  2009;417(Pt 3):747-755.
The mammalian Class III PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase), hVps34 [mammalian Vps (vacuolar protein sorting) 34 homologue], is an important regulator of vesicular trafficking, autophagy and nutrient sensing. In yeast, Vps34 is associated with a putative serine/threonine protein kinase, Vps15, which is required for Vps34p activity. The mammalian homologue of Vps15p, hVps15 (formerly called p150), also binds to hVps34, but its role in hVps34 signalling has not been evaluated. In the present study we have therefore compared the activity and regulation of hVps34 expressed without or with hVps15. We find that hVps34 has low specific activity when expressed alone; co-expression with hVps15 leads to a marked increase in activity. Notably, beclin-1/UVRAG (UV radiation resistance-associated gene) activation of hVps34 requires co-expression with hVps15; this may be explained by the observation that beclin-1/UVRAG expression increases hVps34/hVps15 binding. Regulation of hVps34 activity by nutrients also requires co-expression with hVps15. Finally, given a recent report that hVps34 activity requires Ca2+/CaM (calmodulin), we considered whether hVps15 might be involved in this regulation. Although hVps34 does bind CaM, we find its activity is not affected by treatment of cells with BAPTA/AM [1,2-bis-(o-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N′,N′-tetra-acetic acid tetrakis(acetoxymethyl ester)] or W7. Removal of CaM by EDTA or EGTA washes has no effect on hVps34 activity, and hVps34 activity in vitro is unaffected by Ca2+ chelation. The results of the present study show that, in mammalian cells, hVps34 activity is regulated through its interactions with hVps15, but is independent of Ca2+/CaM.
doi:10.1042/BJ20081865
PMCID: PMC2652830  PMID: 18957027
autophagy; beclin-1; vacuolar protein sorting 15 (Vps15); mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR); mammalian vacuolar protein sorting 34 (Vps34); UV radiation resistance-associated gene (UVRAG); BAPTA, 1,2-bis-(o-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N′,N′-tetra-acetic acid; BAPTA/AM, BAPTA(acetoxymethyl ester); Bif-1, Bax-interacting factor 1; CaM, calmodulin; D-PBS, Dulbecco's PBS; FBS, foetal bovine serum; HA, haemagglutinin; HEK, human embryonic kidney; hVps15, mammalian vacuolar protein sorting 15 homologue; hVps34, mammalian vacuolar protein sorting 34 homologue; MEM, minimal essential medium; MLCK, myosin light-chain kinase; mTOR, mammalian target of rapamycin; PI3K, phosphoinositide 3-kinase; S6K1, S6 kinase 1; TOR, target of rapamycin; UVRAG, UV radiation resistance-associated gene; Vps, vacuolar protein sorting; YFP, yellow fluorescent protein
19.  Fasting Increases Human Skeletal Muscle Net Phenylalanine Release and This Is Associated with Decreased mTOR Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102031.
Aim
Fasting is characterised by profound changes in energy metabolism including progressive loss of body proteins. The underlying mechanisms are however unknown and we therefore determined the effects of a 72-hour-fast on human skeletal muscle protein metabolism and activation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a key regulator of cell growth.
Methods
Eight healthy male volunteers were studied twice: in the postabsorptive state and following 72 hours of fasting. Regional muscle amino acid kinetics was measured in the forearm using amino acid tracers. Signaling to protein synthesis and breakdown were assessed in skeletal muscle biopsies obtained during non-insulin and insulin stimulated conditions on both examination days.
Results
Fasting significantly increased forearm net phenylalanine release and tended to decrease phenylalanine rate of disappearance. mTOR phosphorylation was decreased by ∼50% following fasting, together with reduced downstream phosphorylation of 4EBP1, ULK1 and rpS6. In addition, the insulin stimulated increase in mTOR and rpS6 phosphorylation was significantly reduced after fasting indicating insulin resistance in this part of the signaling pathway. Autophagy initiation is in part regulated by mTOR through ULK1 and fasting increased expression of the autophagic marker LC3B-II by ∼30%. p62 is degraded during autophagy but was increased by ∼10% during fasting making interpretation of autophagic flux problematic. MAFbx and MURF1 ubiquitin ligases remained unaltered after fasting indicating no change in protesomal protein degradation.
Conclusions
Our results show that during fasting increased net phenylalanine release in skeletal muscle is associated to reduced mTOR activation and concomitant decreased downstream signaling to cell growth.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102031
PMCID: PMC4096723  PMID: 25020061
20.  A Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase/Protein Kinase B-independent Activation of Mammalian Target of Rapamycin Signaling Is Sufficient to Induce Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(18):3258-3268.
Overexpression of Rheb activates mTOR signaling via a PI3K/PKB-independent mechanism and is sufficient to induce skeletal muscle hypertrophy. The hypertrophic effects of Rheb are driven through a rapamycin-sensitive (RS) mechanism, mTOR is the RS element that confers the hypertrophy and the kinase activity of mTOR is necessary for this event.
It has been widely proposed that signaling by mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is both necessary and sufficient for the induction of skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Evidence for this hypothesis is largely based on studies that used stimuli that activate mTOR via a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (PKB)-dependent mechanism. However, the stimulation of signaling by PI3K/PKB also can activate several mTOR-independent growth-promoting events; thus, it is not clear whether signaling by mTOR is permissive, or sufficient, for the induction of hypertrophy. Furthermore, the presumed role of mTOR in hypertrophy is derived from studies that used rapamycin to inhibit mTOR; yet, there is very little direct evidence that mTOR is the rapamycin-sensitive element that confers the hypertrophic response. In this study, we determined that, in skeletal muscle, overexpression of Rheb stimulates a PI3K/PKB-independent activation of mTOR signaling, and this is sufficient for the induction of a rapamycin-sensitive hypertrophic response. Transgenic mice with muscle specific expression of various mTOR mutants also were used to demonstrate that mTOR is the rapamycin-sensitive element that conferred the hypertrophic response and that the kinase activity of mTOR is necessary for this event. Combined, these results provide direct genetic evidence that a PI3K/PKB-independent activation of mTOR signaling is sufficient to induce hypertrophy. In summary, overexpression of Rheb activates mTOR signaling via a PI3K/PKB-independent mechanism and is sufficient to induce skeletal muscle hypertrophy. The hypertrophic effects of Rheb are driven through a rapamycin-sensitive (RS) mechanism, mTOR is the RS element that confers the hypertrophy, and the kinase activity of mTOR is necessary for this event.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E10-05-0454
PMCID: PMC2938390  PMID: 20668162
21.  Amino acids inhibit Agrp gene expression via an mTOR-dependent mechanism 
Metabolic fuels act on hypothalamic neurons to regulate feeding behavior and energy homeostasis, but the signaling mechanisms mediating these effects are not fully clear. Rats placed on a low-protein diet (10% of calories) exhibited increased food intake (P < 0.05) and hypothalamic Agouti-related protein (Agrp) gene expression (P = 0.002). Direct intracerebroventricular injection of either an amino acid mixture (RPMI 1640) or leucine alone (1 μg) suppressed 24-h food intake (P < 0.05), indicating that increasing amino acid concentrations within the brain is sufficient to suppress food intake. To define a cellular mechanism for these direct effects, GT1–7 hypothalamic cells were exposed to low amino acids for 16 h. Decreasing amino acid availability increased Agrp mRNA levels in GT1–7 cells (P < 0.01), and this effect was attenuated by replacement of the amino acid leucine (P < 0.05). Acute exposure to elevated amino acid concentrations increased ribosomal protein S6 kinase phosphorylation via a rapamycin-sensitive mechanism, suggesting that amino acids directly stimulated mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling. To test whether mTOR signaling contributes to amino acid inhibition of Agrp gene expression, GT1–7 cells cultured in either low or high amino acids for 16 h and were also treated with rapamcyin (50 nM). Rapamycin treatment increased Agrp mRNA levels in cells exposed to high amino acids (P = 0.01). Taken together, these observations indicate that amino acids can act within the brain to inhibit food intake and that a direct, mTOR-dependent inhibition of Agrp gene expression may contribute to this effect.
doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00675.2006.
PMCID: PMC2596875  PMID: 17374702
Hypothalamus; food intake; neuropeptide; mammalian target of rapamycin
22.  mTOR is Localized to Both the Mitochondria and Cytosol at Comparable Levels in the Heart 
Abstract
Introduction
Recently our study using cardiac-specific transgenic mice (Tg) reported that cardiac mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), a key downstream molecule in insulin signaling, suppresses myocardial cell death in both in vivo and ex vivo ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury. Previous reports suggest that mitochondria are the center of cardiomyocyte cell death subsequent to I/R injury. Therefore, we hypothesized that mTOR is co-localized with key molecules that contribute to mitochondrial meditated cell death. In this study, we explored the physical relationship between mTOR and the mitochondria in the heart.
Methods
Hearts were harvested from 12 week-old mTOR-Tg and littermate control wild-type (WT) mice. Ventricular cardiac muscle was homogenized and membrane fractions were isolated serially with different g-forces. Centrifugation at 750g yielded the nuclear fraction; 12,500g the heavy-mitochondrial (HM) fraction (presumed to contain larger protein-complexes associated with the mitochondrial membrane); 100,000g the S100 (presumed to contain smaller protein-complexes associated with the mitochondrial membrane); the cytosolic fraction was obtained from the supernatant of the S100 pellet. Samples from the fractions were subjected to Western blot analysis to identify proteins, including mTOR. Upwards of three independent experiments were completed.
Results
Immunoblotting for the Voltage-Dependent Anion Channel (VDAC) and an anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xL, both mitochondrial proteins, confirmed that the HM and S100 fractions, but not cytosolic fraction, contain similarly substantial amounts of mitochondrial proteins. No difference in VDAC and Bcl-xL expression was observed between mTOR-Tg and WT mice. Hemagglutinin (HA), a marker protein tagged to mTOR in mTOR-Tg mice, was expressed in varying degrees in all membrane fractions. Interestingly, the expression level of HA was highest in S100 and 6 fold greater than the HM fraction (P <.01). Anti-mTOR blotting showed that mTOR was present in both mitochondrial fractions of both WT and mTOR-Tg mice, with the densest bands again attributed to S100. mTOR expression in WT S100 was 4 fold greater than that of WT HM fraction (P<.001). Although there was no statistically significant difference, total mTOR in both WT and mTOR-Tg mice was dominantly expressed in S100 compared to the cytosolic fraction. mTOR expression in mTOR-Tg S100 was 1.5 times that of WT S100 (P<.01) and highest overall.
Conclusion
This study demonstrates that mTOR is localized in the mitochondria, particularly with smaller protein-complexes associated with the mitochondrial membrane, in addition to the cytosol. Smaller mitochondrial protein-complexes are known to be composed of critical proteins involved in cell death regulation. mTOR may interact with these proteins to limit or prevent cell death in the heart. We are pursuing research to uncover the role of cardiac mTOR in mitochondria-mediated cell death.
PMCID: PMC3764587
23.  Leucine metabolism in regulation of insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells 
Nutrition reviews  2010;68(5):270-279.
Leucine, a the branched-chain amino acids that must be supplied in daily diet, plays an important role in controlling protein synthesis and regulating cell metabolism in various cell types. In pancreatic β cells, leucine acutely stimulates insulin secretion by serving as both metabolic fuel and allosteric activator of glutamate dehydrogenase to enhance glutaminolysis. Leucine has also been shown to regulate gene transcription and protein synthesis in pancreatic islet β cells via both mTOR-dependent and -independent pathways at physiological concentrations. Long-term treatment of leucine has been shown to improve insulin secretory dysfunction of human diabetic islets via upregulation of certain key metabolic genes. In vivo, leucine administration improves glycemic control in humans and rodents with type 2 diabetes. This review aims to summarize and discuss the recent findings regarding the effects of leucine metabolism on pancreatic β cell function.
doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00282.x
PMCID: PMC2969169  PMID: 20500788
leucine; glutamate dehydrogenase; mTOR; ATP synthase
24.  mTOR dysfunction contributes to vacuolar pathology and weakness in valosin-containing protein associated inclusion body myopathy 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;22(6):1167-1179.
Autophagy is dysfunctional in many degenerative diseases including myopathies. Mutations in valosin-containing protein (VCP) cause inclusion body myopathy (IBM) associated with Paget's disease of the bone, fronto-temporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (IBMPFD/ALS). VCP is necessary for protein degradation via the proteasome and lysosome. IBMPFD/ALS mutations in VCP disrupt autophagosome and endosome maturation resulting in vacuolation, weakness and muscle atrophy. To understand the regulation of autophagy in VCP-IBM muscle, we examined the AKT/FOXO3 and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathways. Basal Akt and FOXO3 phosphorylation was normal. In contrast, the phosphorylation of mTOR targets was decreased. Consistent with this, global protein translation was diminished and autophagosome biogenesis was increased in VCP-IBM muscle. Further mTORC1 inhibition with rapamycin hastened weakness, atrophy and vacuolation in VCP-IBM mice. This was accompanied by the accumulation of autophagic substrates such as p62, LC3II and ubiquitinated proteins. The decrease in mTOR signaling was partially rescued by insulin and to a lesser extent by amino acid (AA) stimulation in VCP-IBM muscle. Cells expressing catalytically inactive VCP or treated with a VCP inhibitor also failed to activate mTOR upon nutrient stimulation. Expression of a constitutively active Rheb enhanced mTOR activity and increased the fiber size in VCP-IBM mouse skeletal muscle. These studies suggest that VCP mutations may disrupt mTOR signaling and contribute to IBMPFD/ALS disease pathogenesis. Treatment of some autophagic disorders with mTOR inhibitors such as rapamycin may worsen disease.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds524
PMCID: PMC3657474  PMID: 23250913
25.  Phospholipase D regulates the size of skeletal muscle cells through the activation of mTOR signaling 
mTOR is a major actor of skeletal muscle mass regulation in situations of atrophy or hypertrophy. It is established that Phospholipase D (PLD) activates mTOR signaling, through the binding of its product phosphatidic acid (PA) to mTOR protein. An influence of PLD on muscle cell size could thus be suspected. We explored the consequences of altered expression and activity of PLD isoforms in differentiated L6 myotubes. Inhibition or down-regulation of the PLD1 isoform markedly decreased myotube size and muscle specific protein content. Conversely, PLD1 overexpression induced muscle cell hypertrophy, both in vitro in myotubes and in vivo in mouse gastrocnemius. In the presence of atrophy-promoting dexamethasone, PLD1 overexpression or addition of exogenous PA protected myotubes against atrophy. Similarly, exogenous PA protected myotubes against TNFα-induced atrophy. Moreover, the modulation of PLD expression or activity in myotubes showed that PLD1 negatively regulates the expression of factors involved in muscle protein degradation, such as the E3-ubiquitin ligases Murf1 and Atrogin-1, and the Foxo3 transcription factor. Inhibition of mTOR by PP242 abolished the positive effects of PLD1 on myotubes, whereas modulating PLD influenced the phosphorylation of both S6K1 and Akt, which are respectively substrates of mTORC1 and mTORC2 complexes. These observations suggest that PLD1 acts through the activation of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 to induce positive trophic effects on muscle cells. This pathway may offer interesting therapeutic potentialities in the treatment of muscle wasting.
doi:10.1186/1478-811X-11-55
PMCID: PMC3765503  PMID: 23915343
Phospholipase D; Phosphatidic acid; Muscle wasting; Muscle hypertrophy; Myotubes; mTOR

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