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      mTOR: from growth signal integration to cancer, diabetes and ageing

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          Abstract

          In all eukaryotes, the target of rapamycin (TOR) signalling pathway couples energy and nutrient abundance to the execution of cell growth and division, owing to the ability of TOR protein kinase to simultaneously sense energy, nutrients and stress and, in metazoans, growth factors. Mammalian TOR complex 1 (mTORC1) and mTORC2 exert their actions by regulating other important kinases, such as S6 kinase (S6K) and Akt. In the past few years, a significant advance in our understanding of the regulation and functions of mTOR has revealed the crucial involvement of this signalling pathway in the onset and progression of diabetes, cancer and ageing.

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          Most cited references 91

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          Inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase-3 by insulin mediated by protein kinase B.

          Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3) is implicated in the regulation of several physiological processes, including the control of glycogen and protein synthesis by insulin, modulation of the transcription factors AP-1 and CREB, the specification of cell fate in Drosophila and dorsoventral patterning in Xenopus embryos. GSK3 is inhibited by serine phosphorylation in response to insulin or growth factors and in vitro by either MAP kinase-activated protein (MAPKAP) kinase-1 (also known as p90rsk) or p70 ribosomal S6 kinase (p70S6k). Here we show, however, that agents which prevent the activation of both MAPKAP kinase-1 and p70S6k by insulin in vivo do not block the phosphorylation and inhibition of GSK3. Another insulin-stimulated protein kinase inactivates GSK3 under these conditions, and we demonstrate that it is the product of the proto-oncogene protein kinase B (PKB, also known as Akt/RAC). Like the inhibition of GSK3 (refs 10, 14), the activation of PKB is prevented by inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase.
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            AMP-activated/SNF1 protein kinases: conserved guardians of cellular energy.

            The SNF1/AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) family maintains the balance between ATP production and consumption in all eukaryotic cells. The kinases are heterotrimers that comprise a catalytic subunit and regulatory subunits that sense cellular energy levels. When energy status is compromised, the system activates catabolic pathways and switches off protein, carbohydrate and lipid biosynthesis, as well as cell growth and proliferation. Surprisingly, recent results indicate that the AMPK system is also important in functions that go beyond the regulation of energy homeostasis, such as the maintenance of cell polarity in epithelial cells.
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              Beclin 1, an autophagy gene essential for early embryonic development, is a haploinsufficient tumor suppressor.

              The biochemical properties of beclin 1 suggest a role in two fundamentally important cell biological pathways: autophagy and apoptosis. We show here that beclin 1-/- mutant mice die early in embryogenesis and beclin 1+/- mutant mice suffer from a high incidence of spontaneous tumors. These tumors continue to express wild-type beclin 1 mRNA and protein, establishing that beclin 1 is a haploinsufficient tumor suppressor gene. Beclin 1-/- embryonic stem cells have a severely altered autophagic response, whereas their apoptotic response to serum withdrawal or UV light is normal. These results demonstrate that beclin 1 is a critical component of mammalian autophagy and establish a role for autophagy in tumor suppression. They both provide a biological explanation for recent evidence implicating beclin 1 in human cancer and suggest that mutations in other genes operating in this pathway may contribute to tumor formation through deregulation of autophagy.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology
                Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1471-0072
                1471-0080
                January 2011
                December 15 2010
                January 2011
                : 12
                : 1
                : 21-35
                Article
                10.1038/nrm3025
                3390257
                21157483
                © 2011

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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