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1.  Rab-family GTPase regulates TOR complex 2 signaling in fission yeast 
Current biology : CB  2010;20(22):1975-1982.
From yeast to human, TOR (Target Of Rapamycin) kinase plays pivotal roles in coupling extracellular stimuli to cell growth and metabolism. TOR kinase functions in two distinct protein complexes, TOR complex 1 (TORC1) and 2 (TORC2), which phosphorylate and activate different AGC-family protein kinases. TORC1 is controlled by the small GTPase Rheb, but little is known about TORC2 regulators.
We have identified the Ryh1 GTPase, a human Rab6 ortholog, as an activator of TORC2 signaling in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Mutational inactivation of Ryh1 or its guanine nucleotide exchange factor compromises the TORC2-dependent phosphorylation of the AGC-family Gad8 kinase. In addition, the effector domain of Ryh1 is important for its physical interaction with TORC2 and for stimulation of TORC2 signaling. Thus, GTP-bound Ryh1 is likely to be the active form stimulatory to TORC2–Gad8 signaling. Consistently, expression of the GTP-locked mutant Ryh1 is sufficient to promote interaction between TORC2 and Gad8 and to induce Gad8 hyper-phosphorylation. The loss of functional Ryh1, TORC2 or Gad8 brings about similar vacuolar fragmentation and stress sensitivity, further corroborating their involvement in a common cellular process. Human Rab6 can substitute Ryh1 in S. pombe and therefore, Rab6 may be a potential activator of TORC2 in mammals.
In its GTP-bound form, Ryh1, an evolutionarily conserved Rab GTPase, activates TORC2 signaling to the AGC kinase Gad8. The Ryh1 GTPase and the TORC2–Gad8 pathway are required for vacuolar integrity and cellular stress resistance in S. pombe.
PMCID: PMC3008323  PMID: 21035342
2.  Isp7 Is a Novel Regulator of Amino Acid Uptake in the TOR Signaling Pathway 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2014;34(5):794-806.
TOR proteins reside in two distinct complexes, TOR complexes 1 and 2 (TORC1 and TORC2), that are central for the regulation of cellular growth, proliferation, and survival. TOR is also the target for the immunosuppressive and anticancer drug rapamycin. In Schizosaccharomyces pombe, disruption of the TSC complex, mutations in which can lead to the tuberous sclerosis syndrome in humans, results in a rapamycin-sensitive phenotype under poor nitrogen conditions. We show here that the sensitivity to rapamycin is mediated via inhibition of TORC1 and suppressed by overexpression of isp7+, a member of the family of 2-oxoglutarate-Fe(II)-dependent oxygenase genes. The transcript level of isp7+ is negatively regulated by TORC1 but positively regulated by TORC2. Yet we find extensive similarity between the transcriptome of cells disrupted for isp7+ and cells mutated in the catalytic subunit of TORC1. Moreover, Isp7 regulates amino acid permease expression in a fashion similar to that of TORC1 and opposite that of TORC2. Overexpression of isp7+ induces TORC1-dependent phosphorylation of ribosomal protein Rps6 while inhibiting TORC2-dependent phosphorylation and activation of the AGC-like kinase Gad8. Taken together, our findings suggest a central role for Isp7 in amino acid homeostasis and the presence of isp7+-dependent regulatory loops that affect both TORC1 and TORC2.
PMCID: PMC4023818  PMID: 24344203
3.  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.
PMCID: PMC2637922  PMID: 19209957
4.  Rictor/TORC2 Regulates Caenorhabditis elegans Fat Storage, Body Size, and Development through sgk-1 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(3):e1000060.
The target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase coordinately regulates fundamental metabolic and cellular processes to support growth, proliferation, survival, and differentiation, and consequently it has been proposed as a therapeutic target for the treatment of cancer, metabolic disease, and aging. The TOR kinase is found in two biochemically and functionally distinct complexes, termed TORC1 and TORC2. Aided by the compound rapamycin, which specifically inhibits TORC1, the role of TORC1 in regulating translation and cellular growth has been extensively studied. The physiological roles of TORC2 have remained largely elusive due to the lack of pharmacological inhibitors and its genetic lethality in mammals. Among potential targets of TORC2, the pro-survival kinase AKT has garnered much attention. Within the context of intact animals, however, the physiological consequences of phosphorylation of AKT by TORC2 remain poorly understood. Here we describe viable loss-of-function mutants in the Caenorhabditis elegans homolog of the TORC2-specific component, Rictor (CeRictor). These mutants display a mild developmental delay and decreased body size, but have increased lipid storage. These functions of CeRictor are not mediated through the regulation of AKT kinases or their major downstream target, the insulin-regulated FOXO transcription factor DAF-16. We found that loss of sgk-1, a homolog of the serum- and glucocorticoid-induced kinase, mimics the developmental, growth, and metabolic phenotypes of CeRictor mutants, while a novel, gain-of-function mutation in sgk-1 suppresses these phenotypes, indicating that SGK-1 is a mediator of CeRictor activity. These findings identify new physiological roles for TORC2, mediated by SGK, in regulation of C. elegans lipid accumulation and growth, and they challenge the notion that AKT is the primary effector of TORC2 function.
Author Summary
The target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase acts as a conserved sensor of energy status and governs diverse functions such as metabolism, growth, and cell size via two separate multiprotein complexes. TOR complex 1 (TORC1), which is sensitive to the immunosuppressant drug rapamycin, is well understood but the physiological roles and molecular mechanisms of action of the second TOR complex (TORC2) are not so clear. We describe mutants in the single Caenorhabditis elegans homolog of the gene Rictor, which is the defining component of the TORC2 signaling complex. Mutant worms are small, developmentally delayed, have reduced fecundity, and store more fat than wild-type C. elegans does. Akt kinases, which are pro-survival kinases that mediate the effects of insulin and other growth factors, have been postulated to be key mediators of TORC2 signaling, as they are targets of TORC2 phosphorylation. We find, however, that in C. elegans, TORC2 regulates fat storage, size, and development entirely independent of the Akt kinases and of the major target of insulin signaling, the FOXO-family transcription factor DAF-16. Instead, we show genetically that TORC2 acts through the activation of SGK-1, a kinase closely related to Akt, to govern all three phenotypes. This work indicates a role for TORC2 in fat regulation and shows that SGK-1 is a physiologically significant mediator of TORC2 signaling.
C. elegans TOR complex 2 regulates lipid storage, body size, and development through downstream activation of the SGK-1 kinase, independent of AKT kinases and of the DAF-16/FOXO transcription factor.
PMCID: PMC2650726  PMID: 19260765
5.  Modularity and hormone sensitivity of the Drosophila melanogaster insulin receptor/target of rapamycin interaction proteome 
First systematic analysis of the evolutionary conserved InR/TOR pathway interaction proteome in Drosophila.Quantitative mass spectrometry revealed that 22% of identified protein interactions are regulated by the growth hormone insulin affecting membrane proximal as well as intracellular signaling complexes.Systematic RNA interference linked a significant fraction of network components to the control of dTOR kinase activity.Combined biochemical and genetic data suggest dTTT, a dTOR-containing complex required for cell growth control by dTORC1 and dTORC2 in vivo.
Cellular growth is a fundamental process that requires constant adaptations to changing environmental conditions, like growth factor and nutrient availability, energy levels and more. Over the years, the insulin receptor/target of rapamycin pathway (InR/TOR) emerged as a key signaling system for the control of metazoan cell growth. Genetic screens carried out in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster identified key InR/TOR pathway components and their relationships. Phenotypes such as altered cell growth are likely to emerge from perturbed dynamic networks containing InR/TOR pathway components, which stably or transiently interact with other cellular proteins to form complexes and networks thereof. Systematic studies on the topology and dynamics of protein interaction networks become therefore highly relevant to gain systems level understanding of deregulated cell growth. Despite much progress in genetic analysis only few systematic protein interaction studies have been reported for Drosophila, which in most cases lack quantitative information representing the dynamic nature of such networks. Here, we present the first quantitative affinity purification mass spectrometry (AP–MS/MS) analysis on the evolutionary conserved InR/TOR signaling network in Drosophila. Systematic RNAi-based functional analysis of identified network components revealed key components linked to the regulation of the central effector kinase dTOR. This includes also dTTT, a novel dTOR-containing complex required for the control of dTORC1 and dTORC2 in vivo.
For systematic AP–MS analysis, we generated Drosophila Kc167 cell lines inducibly expressing affinity-tagged bait proteins previously linked to InR/TOR signaling. Bait expressing Kc167 cell lines were harvested before and after insulin stimulation for subsequent affinity purification. Following LC–MS/MS analysis and probabilistic data filtering using SAINT (Choi et al, 2010), we generated a quantitative network model from 97 high confidence protein–protein interactions and 58 network components (Figure 2). The presented network displayed a high degree of orthologous interactions conserved also in human cells and identified a number of novel molecular interactions with InR/TOR signaling components for future hypothesis driven analysis.
To measure insulin-induced changes within the InR/TOR interaction proteome, we applied a recently introduced label-free quantitative MS approach (Rinner et al, 2007). The obtained quantitative data suggest that 22% of all interactions in the network are regulated by insulin. Major changes could be observed within the membrane proximal InR/chico/PI3K signaling complexes, and also in 14-3-3 protein containing signaling complexes and dTORC1, a complex that contains besides dTOR all major orthologous proteins found also in human mTORC1 including the two dTORC1 substrates d4E-BP (Thor) and S6 Kinase (S6K). Insulin triggered both, dissociation and association of dTORC1 proteins. Among the proteins that showed enhanced binding to dTORC1 upon insulin stimulation we found Unkempt, a RING-finger protein with a proposed role in ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation (Lores et al, 2010). Besides dTORC1 our systematic AP–MS analysis also revealed the presence of dTORC2, the second major TOR complex in Drosophila. dTORC2 contains the Drosophila orthologous of human mTORC2 proteins, but in contrast to dTORC1 was not affected upon insulin stimulation. Interestingly, we also found a specific set of proteins that were not linked to the canonical TOR complexes TORC1 and TORC2 in dTOR purifications. These include LqfR (liquid facets related), Pontin, Reptin, Spaghetti and the gene product of CG16908. We found the same set of proteins when we used CG16908 as a bait, suggesting complex formation among the identified proteins. None of the dTORC1/2 components besides dTOR was identified in CG16908 purifications, indicating that these proteins form dTOR complexes distinct from dTORC1 and dTORC2. Based on known interaction information from other species and data obtained from this study we refer to this complex as dTTT (Drosophila TOR, TELO2, TTI1) (Horejsi et al, 2010; [18]Hurov et al, 2010; [20]Kaizuka et al, 2010). A directed quantitative MS analysis of dTOR complex components suggests that dTORC1 is the most abundant dTOR complex we identified in Kc167 cells.
We next studied the potential roles of the identified network components for controlling the activity of the dInR/TOR pathway using systematic RNAi depletion and quantitative western blotting to measure the changes in abundance of phosphorylated substrates of dTORC1 (Thor/d4E-BP, dS6K) and dTORC2 (dPKB) in RNAi-treated cells (Figure 5). Overall, we could identify 16 proteins (out of 58) whose depletion caused an at least 50% increase or decrease in the levels of phosphorylated d4E-BP, S6K and/or PKB compared with control GFP RNAi. Besides established pathway components, we found several novel regulators within the dInR/TOR interaction network. For example, RNAi against the novel insulin-regulated dTORC1 component Unkempt resulted in enhanced phosphorylation of the dTORC1 substrate d4E-BP, which suggests a negative role for Unkempt on dTORC1 activity. In contrast, depletion of CG16908 and LqfR caused hypo-phosphorylation of all dTOR substrates similar to dTOR itself, suggesting a positive role for the dTTT complex on dTOR activity. Subsequently, we tested whether dTTT components also plays a role in dTOR-mediated cell growth in vivo. Depletion of both dTTT components, CG16908 and LqfR, in the Drosophila eye resulted in a substantial decrease in eye size. Likewise, FLP-FRT-mediated mitotic recombination resulted in CG16908 and LqfR mutant clones with a similar reduced growth phenotype as observed in dTOR mutant clones. Hence, the combined biochemical and genetic analysis revealed dTTT as a dTOR-containing complex required for the activity of both dTORC1 and dTORC2 and thus plays a critical role in controlling cell growth.
Taken together, these results illustrate how a systematic quantitative AP–MS approach when combined with systematic functional analysis in Drosophila can reveal novel insights into the dynamic organization of regulatory networks for cell growth control in metazoans.
Using quantitative mass spectrometry, this study reports how insulin affects the modularity of the interaction proteome of the Drosophila InR/TOR pathway, an evolutionary conserved signaling system for the control of metazoan cell growth. Systematic functional analysis linked a significant number of identified network components to the control of dTOR activity and revealed dTTT, a dTOR complex required for in vivo cell growth control by dTORC1 and dTORC2.
Genetic analysis in Drosophila melanogaster has been widely used to identify a system of genes that control cell growth in response to insulin and nutrients. Many of these genes encode components of the insulin receptor/target of rapamycin (InR/TOR) pathway. However, the biochemical context of this regulatory system is still poorly characterized in Drosophila. Here, we present the first quantitative study that systematically characterizes the modularity and hormone sensitivity of the interaction proteome underlying growth control by the dInR/TOR pathway. Applying quantitative affinity purification and mass spectrometry, we identified 97 high confidence protein interactions among 58 network components. In all, 22% of the detected interactions were regulated by insulin affecting membrane proximal as well as intracellular signaling complexes. Systematic functional analysis linked a subset of network components to the control of dTORC1 and dTORC2 activity. Furthermore, our data suggest the presence of three distinct dTOR kinase complexes, including the evolutionary conserved dTTT complex (Drosophila TOR, TELO2, TTI1). Subsequent genetic studies in flies suggest a role for dTTT in controlling cell growth via a dTORC1- and dTORC2-dependent mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3261712  PMID: 22068330
cell growth; InR/TOR pathway; interaction proteome; quantitative mass spectrometry; signaling
6.  Fission yeast TOR complex 2 activates the AGC-family Gad8 kinase essential for stress resistance and cell cycle control 
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)  2007;7(3):358-364.
Members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) subfamily responsive to environmental stress stimuli are known as SAPKs (stress-activated protein kinases), which are conserved from yeast to humans. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Spc1/Sty1 SAPK is activated by diverse forms of stress, such as osmostress, oxidative stress and heat shock, and induces gene expression through the Atf1 transcription factor. Sin1 (SAPK interacting protein 1) was originally isolated as a protein that interacts with Spc1, and its orthologs were also found in diverse eukaryotes. Here we report that Sin1 is not required for the stress gene expression regulated by Spc1 and Atf1, and that Sin1 is an essential component of TOR (target of rapamycin) complex 2 (TORC2). TORC2 is not essential for cell viability in S. pombe but plays important roles in cellular survival of stress conditions through phosphorylation and activation of an AGC-family protein kinase, Gad8. In addition, inactivation of Gad8 results in a synthetic growth defect with cdc25-22, a temperature-sensitive mutation of the Cdc25 phosphatase that activates Cdc2 kinase at G2/M. Gad8 also positively regulates expression of the CDK inhibitor gene rum1+, which is essential for cell cycle arrest in G1 after nitrogen starvation. These results strongly suggest that the TORC2–Gad8 pathway has multiple physiological functions in cellular stress resistance and cell cycle progression at both G1/S and G2/M transitions.
PMCID: PMC2274895  PMID: 18235227
cell cycle; fission yeast; stress; TOR; TORC2
7.  A Genome-Wide Screen for Regulators of TORC1 in Response to Amino Acid Starvation Reveals a Conserved Npr2/3 Complex 
PLoS Genetics  2009;5(6):e1000515.
TORC1 is a central regulator of cell growth in response to amino acid availability, yet little is known about how it is regulated. Here, we performed a reverse genetic screen in yeast for genes necessary to inactivate TORC1. The screen consisted of monitoring the expression of a TORC1 sensitive GFP-based transcriptional reporter in all yeast deletion strains using flow cytometry. We find that in response to amino acid starvation, but not to carbon starvation or rapamycin treatment, cells lacking NPR2 and NPR3 fail to fully (1) activate transcription factors Gln3/Gat1, (2) dephosphorylate TORC1 effector Npr1, and (3) repress ribosomal protein gene expression. Both mutants show proliferation defects only in media containing a low quality nitrogen source, such as proline or ammonia, whereas no defects are evident when cells are grown in the presence of glutamine or peptone mixture. Proliferation defects in npr2Δ and npr3Δ cells can be completely rescued by artificially inhibiting TORC1 by rapamycin, demonstrating that overactive TORC1 in both strains prevents their ability to adapt to an environment containing a low quality nitrogen source. A biochemical purification of each demonstrates that Npr2 and Npr3 form a heterodimer, and this interaction is evolutionarily conserved since the human homologs of NPR2 and NPR3 (NPRL2 and NPRL3, respectively) also co-immunoprecipitate. We conclude that, in yeast, the Npr2/3 complex mediates an amino acid starvation signal to TORC1.
Author Summary
Before a eukaryotic cell commits to cell division it must be large enough so that both daughter cells would be of viable size. The control of cell size is largely mediated by nutritional input signals via an evolutionarily conserved protein complex termed TORC1. In particular, TORC1 has been shown to sense the level of amino acids and its activity correlates with the level of amino acids present in the media. Yet, it is largely unknown how TORC1 senses amino acids. Here we demonstrate that the evolutionarily conserved Npr2/3 complex mediates the amino acid scarcity signal to TORC1. Cells lacking NPR2 and NPR3 genes fail to inactivate TORC1 when amino acids are scarce. Overactive TORC1 prevents these cells from adapting to an amino acid scarce environment, and, as a result, these cells are unable to proliferate in media that is not rich in amino acids. Artificially inhibiting TORC1 with rapamycin can completely rescue these defects. These results provide insight into how cells sense amino acid deficiency. Moreover, as deletions of NPR2 have been implicated in tumor growth, these results offer a fertile ground to study the role overactive TORC1 might play in those cancers.
PMCID: PMC2686269  PMID: 19521502
8.  Ku-0063794 is a specific inhibitor of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) 
Biochemical Journal  2009;421(Pt 1):29-42.
mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) stimulates cell growth by phosphorylating and promoting activation of AGC (protein kinase A/protein kinase G/protein kinase C) family kinases such as Akt (protein kinase B), S6K (p70 ribosomal S6 kinase) and SGK (serum and glucocorticoid protein kinase). mTORC1 (mTOR complex-1) phosphorylates the hydrophobic motif of S6K, whereas mTORC2 phosphorylates the hydrophobic motif of Akt and SGK. In the present paper we describe the small molecule Ku-0063794, which inhibits both mTORC1 and mTORC2 with an IC50 of ∼10 nM, but does not suppress the activity of 76 other protein kinases or seven lipid kinases, including Class 1 PI3Ks (phosphoinositide 3-kinases) at 1000-fold higher concentrations. Ku-0063794 is cell permeant, suppresses activation and hydrophobic motif phosphorylation of Akt, S6K and SGK, but not RSK (ribosomal S6 kinase), an AGC kinase not regulated by mTOR. Ku-0063794 also inhibited phosphorylation of the T-loop Thr308 residue of Akt phosphorylated by PDK1 (3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1). We interpret this as implying phosphorylation of Ser473 promotes phosphorylation of Thr308 and/or induces a conformational change that protects Thr308 from dephosphorylation. In contrast, Ku-0063794 does not affect Thr308 phosphorylation in fibroblasts lacking essential mTORC2 subunits, suggesting that signalling processes have adapted to enable Thr308 phosphorylation to occur in the absence of Ser473 phosphorylation. We found that Ku-0063794 induced a much greater dephosphorylation of the mTORC1 substrate 4E-BP1 (eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1) than rapamycin, even in mTORC2-deficient cells, suggesting a form of mTOR distinct from mTORC1, or mTORC2 phosphorylates 4E-BP1. Ku-0063794 also suppressed cell growth and induced a G1-cell-cycle arrest. Our results indicate that Ku-0063794 will be useful in delineating the physiological roles of mTOR and may have utility in treatment of cancers in which this pathway is inappropriately activated.
PMCID: PMC2708931  PMID: 19402821
Akt/protein kinase B (PKB); cancer; kinase inhibitor; phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K); p70 ribosomal S6 kinase (S6K); serum and glucocorticoid protein kinase (SGK); AGC family, protein kinase A/protein kinase G/protein kinase C family; AMPK, AMP-activated protein kinase; DTT, dithiothreitol; eIF4E, eukaryotic initiation factor 4E; 4E-BP1, eIF4E-binding protein 1; ERK, extracellular-signal-regulated kinase; GST, glutathione transferase; HEK-293 cell, human embryonic kidney 293 cell; IGF, insulin-like growth factor; MAPK, mitogen-activated protein kinase; MEF, mouse embryonic fibroblast; mTOR, mammalian target of rapamycin; mTORC, mTOR complex; NDRG1, N-Myc downstream-regulated gene-1; PDK, 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase; PH domain, pleckstrin homology domain; PI3K, phosphoinositide 3-kinase; PKC, protein kinase C; PRAS40, proline-rich Akt substrate of 40 kDa; RSK, ribosomal S6 kinase; S6K, p70 ribosomal S6 kinase; SGK, serum and glucocorticoid protein kinase; SPHK, sphingosine kinase
9.  TOR Complex 2 Controls Gene Silencing, Telomere Length Maintenance, and Survival under DNA-Damaging Conditions▿ † 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2009;29(16):4584-4594.
The Target Of Rapamycin (TOR) kinase belongs to the highly conserved eukaryotic family of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase-related kinases (PIKKs). TOR proteins are found at the core of two distinct evolutionarily conserved complexes, TORC1 and TORC2. Disruption of TORC1 or TORC2 results in characteristically dissimilar phenotypes. TORC1 is a major cell growth regulator, while the cellular roles of TORC2 are not well understood. In the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Tor1 is a component of the TORC2 complex, which is particularly required during starvation and various stress conditions. Our genome-wide gene expression analysis of Δtor1 mutants indicates an extensive similarity with chromatin structure mutants. Consistently, TORC2 regulates several chromatin-mediated functions, including gene silencing, telomere length maintenance, and tolerance to DNA damage. These novel cellular roles of TORC2 are rapamycin insensitive. Cells lacking Tor1 are highly sensitive to the DNA-damaging drugs hydroxyurea (HU) and methyl methanesulfonate, similar to mutants of the checkpoint kinase Rad3 (ATR). Unlike Rad3, Tor1 is not required for the cell cycle arrest in the presence of damaged DNA. Instead, Tor1 becomes essential for dephosphorylation and reactivation of the cyclin-dependent kinase Cdc2, thus allowing reentry into mitosis following recovery from DNA replication arrest. Taken together, our data highlight critical roles for TORC2 in chromatin metabolism and in promoting mitotic entry, most notably after recovery from DNA-damaging conditions. These data place TOR proteins in line with other PIKK members, such as ATM and ATR, as guardians of genome stability.
PMCID: PMC2725747  PMID: 19546237
10.  Signaling events downstream of mTOR complex 2 are attenuated in cells and tumors deficient for the tuberous sclerosis complex tumor suppressors 
Cancer research  2009;69(15):6107-6114.
Mutations in TSC1 and TSC2 tumor suppressor genes give rise to the neoplastic disorders tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) and lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM). Their gene products form a complex that is a critical negative regulator of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 (mTORC1) and cell growth. We recently found that the TSC1-TSC2 complex promotes the activity of mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2), an upstream activator of Akt, and this occurs independent of its inhibitory effects on mTORC1. Loss of mTORC2 activity in cells lacking the TSC1-TSC2 complex, coupled with mTORC1-mediated feedback mechanisms, leads to strong attenuation of the growth factor-stimulated phosphorylation of Akt on S473. In this study, we demonstrate that both PI3K-dependent and independent mTORC2 substrates are affected by loss of the TSC1-TSC2 complex in cell culture models and kidney tumors from both Tsc2+/− mice (i.e., adenoma) and TSC patients (i.e., angiomyolipoma). These mTORC2 targets are all members of the AGC kinase family and include Akt, protein kinase C (PKCα), and serum and glucocorticoid-induced protein kinase (SGK1). We also demonstrate that the TSC1-TSC2 complex can directly stimulate the in vitro kinase activity of mTORC2. The interaction between these two complexes is mediated primarily through regions on TSC2 and a core component of mTORC2 called Rictor. Hence, loss of the TSC tumor suppressors results in elevated mTORC1 signaling and attenuated mTORC2 signaling. These findings suggest that the TSC1-TSC2 complex plays opposing roles in tumor progression, both blocking and promoting specific oncogenic pathways through its effects on mTORC1 inhibition and mTORC2 activation, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2735013  PMID: 19602587
11.  Phosphorylation of the TOR ATP binding domain by AGC kinase constitutes a novel mode of TOR inhibition 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2013;203(4):595-604.
AGC kinase–mediated phosphorylation of the TOR kinase reduces its activity and results in physiologically significant changes in TOR signalling in both yeast and human cells.
TOR (target of rapamycin) signaling coordinates cell growth, metabolism, and cell division through tight control of signaling via two complexes, TORC1 and TORC2. Here, we show that fission yeast TOR kinases and mTOR are phosphorylated on an evolutionarily conserved residue of their ATP-binding domain. The Gad8 kinase (AKT homologue) phosphorylates fission yeast Tor1 at this threonine (T1972) to reduce activity. A T1972A mutation that blocked phosphorylation increased Tor1 activity and stress resistance. Nitrogen starvation of fission yeast inhibited TOR signaling to arrest cell cycle progression in G1 phase and promoted sexual differentiation. Starvation and a Gad8/T1972-dependent decrease in Tor1 (TORC2) activity was essential for efficient cell cycle arrest and differentiation. Experiments in human cell lines recapitulated these yeast observations, as mTOR was phosphorylated on T2173 in an AKT-dependent manner. In addition, a T2173A mutation increased mTOR activity. Thus, TOR kinase activity can be reduced through AGC kinase–controlled phosphorylation to generate physiologically significant changes in TOR signaling.
PMCID: PMC3840928  PMID: 24247430
12.  A unifying model for mTORC1-mediated regulation of mRNA translation 
Nature  2012;485(7396):109-113.
The mTOR Complex 1 (mTORC1) kinase nucleates a pathway that promotes cell growth and proliferation and is the target of rapamycin, a drug with many clinical uses1. mTORC1 regulates mRNA translation, but the overall translational program is poorly defined and no unifying model exists to explain how mTORC1 differentially controls the translation of specific mRNAs. Here we use high-resolution transcriptome-scale ribosome profiling to monitor translation in cells acutely treated with the mTOR inhibitor Torin1, which, unlike rapamycin, fully inhibits mTORC12. These data reveal a surprisingly simple view of the mRNA features and mechanisms that confer mTORC1-dependent translation control. The subset of mRNAs that are specifically regulated by mTORC1 consists almost entirely of transcripts with established 5′ terminal oligopyrimidine (TOP) motifs, or, like Hsp90ab1 and Ybx1, with previously unrecognized TOP or related TOP-like motifs that we identified. We find no evidence to support proposals that mTORC1 preferentially regulates mRNAs with increased 5′ UTR length or complexity3. mTORC1 phosphorylates a myriad of translational regulators, but how it controls TOP mRNA translation is unknown4. Remarkably, loss of just the well-characterized mTORC1 substrates, the 4E-BP family of translational repressors, is sufficient to render TOP and TOP-like mRNA translation resistant to Torin1. The 4E-BPs inhibit translation initiation by interfering with the interaction between the cap-binding protein eIF4E and eIF4G1. Loss of this interaction diminishes the capacity of eIF4E to bind TOP and TOP-like mRNAs much more than other mRNAs, explaining why mTOR inhibition selectively suppresses their translation. Our results clarify the translational program controlled by mTORC1 and identify 4E-BPs and eIF4G1 as its master effectors.
PMCID: PMC3347774  PMID: 22552098
13.  The reverse, but coordinated, roles of Tor2 (TORC1) and Tor1 (TORC2) kinases for growth, cell cycle and separase-mediated mitosis in Schizosaccharomyces pombe 
Open biology  2011;1(3):110007.
Target of rapamycin complexes (TORCs), which are vital for nutrient utilization, contain a catalytic subunit with the phosphatidyl inositol kinase-related kinase (PIKK) motif. TORC1 is required for cell growth, while the functions of TORC2 are less well understood. We show here that the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe TORC2 has a cell cycle role through determining the proper timing of Cdc2 Tyr15 dephosphorylation and the cell size under limited glucose, whereas TORC1 restrains mitosis and opposes securin–separase, which are essential for chromosome segregation. These results were obtained using the previously isolated TORC1 mutant tor2-L2048S in the phosphatidyl inositol kinase (PIK) domain and a new TORC2 mutant tor1-L2045D, which harbours a mutation in the same site. While mutated TORC1 and TORC2 displayed diminished kinase activity and FKBP12/Fkh1-dependent rapamycin sensitivity, their phenotypes were nearly opposite in mitosis. Premature mitosis and the G2–M delay occurred in TORC1 and TORC2 mutants, respectively. Surprisingly, separase/cut1—securin/cut2 mutants were rescued by TORC1/tor2-L2048S mutation or rapamycin addition or even Fkh1 deletion, whereas these mutants showed synthetic defect with TORC2/tor1-L2045D. TORC1 and TORC2 coordinate growth, mitosis and cell size control, such as Wee1 and Cdc25 do for the entry into mitosis.
PMCID: PMC3352084  PMID: 22645648
target of rapamycin; rapamycin; Fkh1; Cdc2; separase
14.  Simultaneous Inhibition of mTOR-Containing Complex 1 (mTORC1) and MNK Induces Apoptosis of Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma (CTCL) Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24849.
mTOR kinase forms the mTORC1 complex by associating with raptor and other proteins and affects a number of key cell functions. mTORC1 activates p70S6kinase 1 (p70S6K1) and inhibits 4E-binding protein 1 (4E-BP1). In turn, p70S6K1 phosphorylates a S6 protein of the 40S ribosomal subunit (S6rp) and 4E-BP1, with the latter negatively regulating eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF-4E). MNK1 and MNK2 kinases phosphorylate and augment activity of eIF4E. Rapamycin and its analogs are highly specific, potent, and relatively non-toxic inhibitors of mTORC1. Although mTORC1 activation is present in many types of malignancies, rapamycin-type inhibitors shows relatively limited clinical efficacy as single agents. Initially usually indolent, CTCL displays a tendency to progress to the aggressive forms with limited response to therapy and poor prognosis. Our previous study (M. Marzec et al. 2008) has demonstrated that CTCL cells display mTORC1 activation and short-term treatment of CTCL-derived cells with rapamycin suppressed their proliferation and had little effect on the cell survival.
Cells derived from CTCL were treated with mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin and MNK inhibitor and evaluated for inhibition of the mTORC1 signaling pathway and cell growth and survival.
Whereas the treatment with rapamycin persistently inhibited mTORC1 signaling, it suppressed only partially the cell growth. MNK kinase mediated the eIF4E phosphorylation and inhibition or depletion of MNK markedly suppressed proliferation of the CTCL cells when combined with the rapamycin-mediated inhibition of mTORC1. While MNK inhibition alone mildly suppressed the CTCL cell growth, the combined MNK and mTORC1 inhibition totally abrogated the growth. Similarly, MNK inhibitor alone displayed a minimal pro-apoptotic effect; in combination with rapamycin it triggered profound cell apoptosis.
These findings indicate that the combined inhibition of mTORC1 and MNK may prove beneficial in the treatment of CTCL and other malignancies.
PMCID: PMC3174990  PMID: 21949767
15.  Site-Specific mTOR Phosphorylation Promotes mTORC1-Mediated Signaling and Cell Growth ▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2009;29(15):4308-4324.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 (mTORC1) functions as a rapamycin-sensitive environmental sensor that promotes cellular biosynthetic processes in response to growth factors and nutrients. While diverse physiological stimuli modulate mTORC1 signaling, the direct biochemical mechanisms underlying mTORC1 regulation remain poorly defined. Indeed, while three mTOR phosphorylation sites have been reported, a functional role for site-specific mTOR phosphorylation has not been demonstrated. Here we identify a new site of mTOR phosphorylation (S1261) by tandem mass spectrometry and demonstrate that insulin-phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling promotes mTOR S1261 phosphorylation in both mTORC1 and mTORC2. Here we focus on mTORC1 and show that TSC/Rheb signaling promotes mTOR S1261 phosphorylation in an amino acid-dependent, rapamycin-insensitive, and autophosphorylation-independent manner. Our data reveal a functional role for mTOR S1261 phosphorylation in mTORC1 action, as S1261 phosphorylation promotes mTORC1-mediated substrate phosphorylation (e.g., p70 ribosomal protein S6 kinase 1 [S6K1] and eukaryotic initiation factor 4E binding protein 1) and cell growth to increased cell size. Moreover, Rheb-driven mTOR S2481 autophosphorylation and S6K1 phosphorylation require S1261 phosphorylation. These data provide the first evidence that site-specific mTOR phosphorylation regulates mTORC1 function and suggest a model whereby insulin-stimulated mTOR S1261 phosphorylation promotes mTORC1 autokinase activity, substrate phosphorylation, and cell growth.
PMCID: PMC2715808  PMID: 19487463
16.  Platelet-derived growth factor-induced Akt phosphorylation requires mTOR/Rictor and phospholipase C-γ1, whereas S6 phosphorylation depends on mTOR/Raptor and phospholipase D 
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) can be found in two multi-protein complexes, i.e. mTORC1 (containing Raptor) and mTORC2 (containing Rictor). Here, we investigated the mechanisms by which mTORC1 and mTORC2 are activated and their downstream targets in response to platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-BB treatment. Inhibition of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibited PDGF-BB activation of both mTORC1 and mTORC2. We found that in Rictor-null mouse embryonic fibroblasts, or after prolonged rapamycin treatment of NIH3T3 cells, PDGF-BB was not able to promote phosphorylation of Ser473 in the serine/threonine kinase Akt, whereas Thr308 phosphorylation was less affected, suggesting that Ser473 in Akt is phosphorylated in an mTORC2-dependent manner. This reduction in Akt phosphorylation did not influence the phosphorylation of the S6 protein, a well established protein downstream of mTORC1. Consistently, triciribine, an inhibitor of the Akt pathway, suppressed PDGF-BB-induced Akt phosphorylation without having any effect on S6 phosphorylation. Thus, mTORC2 does not appear to be upstream of mTORC1. We could also demonstrate that in Rictor-null cells the phosphorylation of phospholipase Cγ1 (PLCγ1) and protein kinase C (PKC) was impaired, and the PKCα protein levels strongly reduced. Furthermore, interfering with the PLCγ/Ca2+/PKC pathway inhibited PDGF-BB-induced Akt phosphorylation. In addition, PDGF-BB-induced activation of mTORC1, as measured by phosphorylation of the downstream S6 protein, was dependent on phospholipase D (PLD). It has been shown that Erk1/2 MAP-kinase directly phosphorylates and activates mTORC1; in partial agreement with this finding, we found that a Mek1/2 inhibitor delayed S6 phosphorylation in response to PDGF-BB, but it did not block it. Thus, whereas both mTORC1 and mTORC2 are activated in a PI3K-dependent manner, different additional signaling pathways are needed. mTORC1 is activated in a PLD-dependent manner and promotes phosphorylation of the S6 protein, whereas mTORC2, in concert with PLCγ signaling, promotes Akt phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC3560233  PMID: 23311350
PDGF; PI3K; mTOR; Rictor; Raptor; Akt; PLC; PKC; PLD; S6
17.  The Rapamycin-sensitive Phosphoproteome Reveals That TOR Controls Protein Kinase A Toward Some But Not All Substrates 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(19):3475-3486.
In yeast TOR and PKA pathways both control cell growth but how TORC1 and PKA signaling are linked is unknown. Here we show that TORC1 inhibition prevents the phosphorylation of some but not all PKA targets. We further demonstrate that TORC1 controls PKA by inhibiting the phosphorylation of the PKA regulatory subunit BCY1 by the MAP kinase MPK1.
Regulation of cell growth requires extensive coordination of several processes including transcription, ribosome biogenesis, translation, nutrient metabolism, and autophagy. In yeast, the protein kinases Target of Rapamycin (TOR) and protein kinase A (PKA) regulate these processes and are thereby the main activators of cell growth in response to nutrients. How TOR, PKA, and their corresponding signaling pathways are coordinated to control the same cellular processes is not understood. Quantitative analysis of the rapamycin-sensitive phosphoproteome combined with targeted analysis of PKA substrates suggests that TOR complex 1 (TORC1) activates PKA but only toward a subset of substrates. Furthermore, we show that TORC1 signaling impinges on BCY1, the negative regulatory subunit of PKA. Inhibition of TORC1 with rapamycin leads to BCY1 phosphorylation on several sites including T129. Phosphorylation of BCY1 T129 results in BCY1 activation and inhibition of PKA. TORC1 inhibits BCY1 T129 phosphorylation by phosphorylating and activating the S6K homolog SCH9 that in turn inhibits the MAP kinase MPK1. MPK1 phosphorylates BCY1 T129 directly. Thus, TORC1 activates PKA toward some substrates by preventing MPK1-mediated activation of BCY1.
PMCID: PMC2947482  PMID: 20702584
18.  Rab small GTPase emerges as a regulator of TOR complex 2 
Small GTPases  2010;1(3):180-182.
In diverse eukaryotic species from yeast to human, TOR (Target Of Rapamycin) protein kinase operates in signaling pathways that link extracellular stimuli to the control of cell growth and metabolism. TOR kinase functions in two distinct protein complexes, TOR complex 1 (TORC1) and 2 (TORC2). While TORC1 is known to be under the control of the Ras-like small GTPase Rheb, our knowledge about TORC2 regulation is very limited. We thus set out to identify TORC2 activators through genetic approaches in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Here we briefly review our study that has identified a Rab-family GTPase, Ryh1 and its GEF (guanine nucleotide exchange factor) as positive regulators of TORC2 signaling in S. pombe. Considering the evolutionary conservation of the TOR pathways, it is conceivable that Rabfamily GTPases also play a role in the regulation of human TORC2 in cellular proliferation and insulin signaling.
PMCID: PMC3103070  PMID: 21625337
TOR; Akt; Gad8; Rab GTPase; Rab6; Ryh1; fission yeast; Schizosaccharomyces pombe; phosphorylation
19.  Rab small GTPase emerges as a regulator of TOR complex 2 
Small GTPases  2010;1(3):180-182.
In diverse eukaryotic species from yeast to human, TOR (Target Of Rapamycin) protein kinase operates in signaling pathways that link extracellular stimuli to the control of cell growth and metabolism. TOR kinase functions in two distinct protein complexes, TOR complex 1 (TORC1) and 2 (TORC2). While TORC1 is known to be under the control of the Ras-like small GTPase Rheb, our knowledge about TORC2 regulation is very limited. We thus set out to identify TORC2 activators through genetic approaches in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Here we briefly review our study that has identified a Rab-family GTPase, Ryh1, and its GEF (guanine nucleotide exchange factor) as positive regulators of TORC2 signaling in S. pombe. Considering the evolutionary conservation of the TOR pathways, it is conceivable that Rab-family GTPases also play a role in the regulation of human TORC2 in cellular proliferation and insulin signaling.
PMCID: PMC3103070  PMID: 21625337
TOR; Akt; Gad8; Rab GTPase; Rab6; Ryh1; fission yeast; Schizosaccharomyces pombe; phosphorylation
20.  Crosstalk between Edc4 and Mammalian Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 (mTORC1) Signaling in mRNA Decapping 
The mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is involved in the cellular transcription and translation processes. The undertaken study characterized the enhancer of mRNA decapping protein 4 (Edc4) as mTORC1 interacting protein. Human T lymphoblast (CCRF-CEM) cells were used for mTORC1 purification. Co-immunoprecipitation coupled with immunoblotting analysis was used to confirm the interaction of Edc4 in mTORC1 specific purifications. Further assays were incorporated to conclude the role of mTORC1 in mRNA decapping via Edc4. Edc4 was identified as a new interacting protein with mTORC1 in both the endogenous and myc-tag raptor component mTORC1 specific purifications. Quantitative co-localization using confocal microscopy demonstrated that raptor component of mTORC1 coexists with Edc4 in processing (P) bodies, a site for mRNA degradation. Incubation of cells with rapamycin, a known inhibitor of mTOR kinase activity, increased the total Edc4 protein expression but at the same time decreased the Edc4 interaction with mTORC1. Moreover, rapamycin treatment resulted in a significant decrease in total serine phosphorylated Edc4 protein signal and the total 5'-capped mRNA. These findings provide the first evidence for the pivotal role of mTORC1 in Edc4 regulation. Further in-depth studies are required to get a complete understanding of molecular crosstalk between mTORC1 signaling and mRNA decapping pathway.
PMCID: PMC4284759  PMID: 25514416
mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) purification; mTORC1 interacting proteins; enhancer of mRNA decapping protein 4 (Edc4); mRNA decapping
21.  Alcohol-Induced Modulation of Rictor and mTORC2 Activity in C2C12 Myoblasts 
The mTOR kinase controls cell growth, proliferation and metabolism through two distinct multi-protein complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2. We reported that alcohol (EtOH) inhibits mTORC1 activity and protein synthesis in C2C12 myoblasts. However, the role that mTORC2 plays in this process has not been elucidated. In this study, we investigated whether mTORC2 functions as part of a feedback regulator in response to EtOH, acting to maintain the balance between the functions of Akt, mTORC2 and mTORC1.
C2C12 myoblasts were incubated with EtOH for 18-24 h. Levels of various mTORC2 proteins and mRNA were assessed by immunoblotting and real-time PCR, respectively, while protein-protein interactions were determined by immunoprecipitation and immunoblotting. An in vitro mTORC2 kinase activity assay was performed using Akt as a substrate. The rate of protein synthesis was determined by 35S-methionine/cysteine incorporation into cellular protein.
EtOH (100 mM) increased the protein and mRNA levels of the mTORC2 components rictor, mSin1, PRR5 and Deptor. There was also an increased association of these proteins with mTOR. EtOH increased the in vitro kinase activity of mTORC2, and this was correlated with decreased binding of rictor with 14-3-3 and Deptor. Reduced rictor phosphorylation at T1135 by EtOH was most likely due to decreased S6K1 activity. Knockdown of rictor elevated mTORC1 activity, as indicated by increased S6K1 phosphorylation and protein synthesis. Likewise, there were decreased amounts and/or phosphorylation levels of various mTORC1 and mTORC2 components including raptor, PRAS40, mSin1, Deptor and GβL. Activated PP2A was associated with decreased Akt and eEF2 phosphorylation. Collectively, our results provide evidence of a homeostatic balance between the two mTOR complexes following EtOH treatments in myoblasts.
EtOH increased the activity of mTORC2 by elevating levels of various components and their interaction with mTOR. Decreased rictor phosphorylation at T1135 acts as mTORC1-dependent feedback mechanisms, functioning in addition to the IRS-I/PI3K signaling pathway to regulate protein synthesis.
PMCID: PMC3503252  PMID: 21438886
Ethanol; rictor; shRNA; protein synthesis
22.  The TSC1-TSC2 Complex Is Required for Proper Activation of mTOR Complex 2▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(12):4104-4115.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a protein kinase that forms two functionally distinct complexes important for nutrient and growth factor signaling. Both complexes phosphorylate a hydrophobic motif on downstream protein kinases, which contributes to the activation of these kinases. mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) phosphorylates S6K1, while mTORC2 phosphorylates Akt. The TSC1-TSC2 complex is a critical negative regulator of mTORC1. However, how mTORC2 is regulated and whether the TSC1-TSC2 complex is involved are unknown. We find that mTORC2 isolated from a variety of cells lacking a functional TSC1-TSC2 complex is impaired in its kinase activity toward Akt. Importantly, the defect in mTORC2 activity in these cells can be separated from effects on mTORC1 signaling and known feedback mechanisms affecting insulin receptor substrate-1 and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase. Our data also suggest that the TSC1-TSC2 complex positively regulates mTORC2 in a manner independent of its GTPase-activating protein activity toward Rheb. Finally, we find that the TSC1-TSC2 complex can physically associate with mTORC2 but not mTORC1. These data demonstrate that the TSC1-TSC2 complex inhibits mTORC1 and activates mTORC2, which through different mechanisms promotes Akt activation.
PMCID: PMC2423120  PMID: 18411301
23.  Characterization of Rictor Phosphorylation Sites Reveals Direct Regulation of mTOR Complex 2 by S6K1▿ † 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2009;29(21):5657-5670.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) functions within two distinct complexes (mTORC1 and mTORC2) to control cell growth, proliferation, survival, and metabolism. While there has been great progress in our understanding of mTORC1 regulation, the signaling mechanisms that regulate mTORC2 have not been defined. In this study, we use liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analyses to identify 21 phosphorylation sites on the core mTORC2 component Rictor. We find that one site, T1135, undergoes growth factor-responsive phosphorylation that is acutely sensitive to rapamycin and is phosphorylated downstream of mTORC1. We find that Rictor-T1135 is directly phosphorylated by the mTORC1-dependent kinase S6K1. Although this phosphorylation event does not affect mTORC2 integrity or in vitro kinase activity, expression of a phosphorylation site mutant of Rictor (T1135A) in either wild-type or Rictor null cells causes an increase in the mTORC2-dependent phosphorylation of Akt on S473. However, Rictor-T1135 phosphorylation does not appear to regulate mTORC2-mediated effects on SGK1 or PKCα. While the precise molecular mechanism affecting Akt is unknown, phosphorylation of T1135 stimulates binding of Rictor to 14-3-3 proteins. We provide evidence that Rictor-T1135 phosphorylation acts in parallel with other mTORC1-dependent feedback mechanisms, such as those affecting IRS-1 signaling to PI3K, to regulate the response of Akt to insulin.
PMCID: PMC2772744  PMID: 19720745
24.  Receptor-Recognized α2-Macroglobulin Binds to Cell Surface-Associated GRP78 and Activates mTORC1 and mTORC2 Signaling in Prostate Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51735.
Tetrameric α2-macroglobulin (α2M), a plasma panproteinase inhibitor, is activated upon interaction with a proteinase, and undergoes a major conformational change exposing a receptor recognition site in each of its subunits. Activated α2M (α2M*) binds to cancer cell surface GRP78 and triggers proliferative and antiapoptotic signaling. We have studied the role of α2M* in the regulation of mTORC1 and TORC2 signaling in the growth of human prostate cancer cells.
Employing immunoprecipitation techniques and Western blotting as well as kinase assays, activation of the mTORC1 and mTORC2 complexes, as well as down stream targets were studied. RNAi was also employed to silence expression of Raptor, Rictor, or GRP78 in parallel studies.
Stimulation of cells with α2M* promotes phosphorylation of mTOR, TSC2, S6-Kinase, 4EBP, AktT308, and AktS473 in a concentration and time-dependent manner. Rheb, Raptor, and Rictor also increased. α2M* treatment of cells elevated mTORC1 kinase activity as determined by kinase assays of mTOR or Raptor immunoprecipitates. mTORC1 activity was sensitive to LY294002 and rapamycin or transfection of cells with GRP78 dsRNA. Down regulation of Raptor expression by RNAi significantly reduced α2M*-induced S6-Kinase phosphorylation at T389 and kinase activity in Raptor immunoprecipitates. α2M*-treated cells demonstrate about a twofold increase in mTORC2 kinase activity as determined by kinase assay of AktS473 phosphorylation and levels of p-AktS473 in mTOR and Rictor immunoprecipitates. mTORC2 activity was sensitive to LY294002 and transfection of cells with GRP78 dsRNA, but insensitive to rapamycin. Down regulation of Rictor expression by RNAi significantly reduces α2M*-induced phosphorylation of AktS473 phosphorylation in Rictor immunoprecipitates.
Binding of α2M* to prostate cancer cell surface GRP78 upregulates mTORC1 and mTORC2 activation and promotes protein synthesis in the prostate cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3522726  PMID: 23272152
25.  Loss of the TOR Kinase Tor2 Mimics Nitrogen Starvation and Activates the Sexual Development Pathway in Fission Yeast▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(8):3154-3164.
Fission yeast has two TOR (target of rapamycin) kinases, namely Tor1 and Tor2. Tor1 is required for survival under stressed conditions, proper G1 arrest, and sexual development. In contrast, Tor2 is essential for growth. To analyze the functions of Tor2, we constructed two temperature-sensitive tor2 mutants. Interestingly, at the restrictive temperature, these mutants mimicked nitrogen starvation by arresting the cell cycle in G1 phase and initiating sexual development. Microarray analysis indicated that expression of nitrogen starvation-responsive genes was induced extensively when Tor2 function was suppressed, suggesting that Tor2 normally mediates a signal from the nitrogen source. As with mammalian and budding yeast TOR, we find that fission yeast TOR also forms multiprotein complexes analogous to TORC1 and TORC2. The raptor homologue, Mip1, likely forms a complex predominantly with Tor2, producing TORC1. The rictor/Avo3 homologue, Ste20, and the Avo1 homologue, Sin1, appear to form TORC2 mainly with Tor1 but may also bind Tor2. The Lst8 homologue, Wat1, binds to both Tor1 and Tor2. Our analysis shows, with respect to promotion of G1 arrest and sexual development, that the loss of Tor1 (TORC2) and the loss of Tor2 (TORC1) exhibit opposite effects. This highlights an intriguing functional relationship among TOR kinase complexes in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe.
PMCID: PMC1899950  PMID: 17261596

Results 1-25 (987908)