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Chemical Genetics of AGC-kinases Reveals Shared Targets of Ypk1, Protein Kinase A and Sch9.
Mol Cell Proteomics, 2020 Apr; 19 (4): 655-671
Protein phosphorylation cascades play a central role in the regulation of cell growth and protein kinases PKA, Sch9 and Ypk1 take center stage in regulating this process in To understand how these kinases co-ordinately regulate cellular functions we compared the phospho-proteome of exponentially growing cells without and with acute chemical inhibition of PKA, Sch9 and Ypk1. Sites hypo-phosphorylated upon PKA and Sch9 inhibition were preferentially located in RRxS/T-motifs suggesting that many are directly phosphorylated by these enzymes. Interestingly, when inhibiting Ypk1 we not only detected several hypo-phosphorylated sites in the previously reported RxRxxS/T-, but also in an RRxS/T-motif. Validation experiments revealed that neutral trehalase Nth1, a known PKA target, is additionally phosphorylated and activated downstream of Ypk1. Signaling through Ypk1 is therefore more closely related to PKA- and Sch9-signaling than previously appreciated and may perform functions previously only attributed to the latter kinases.
TORC2 controls endocytosis through plasma membrane tension.
J Cell Biol, 2019 Jul 1; 218 (7): 2265-2276
Target of rapamycin complex 2 (TORC2) is a conserved protein kinase that regulates multiple plasma membrane (PM)-related processes, including endocytosis. Direct, chemical inhibition of TORC2 arrests endocytosis but with kinetics that is relatively slow and therefore inconsistent with signaling being mediated solely through simple phosphorylation cascades. Here, we show that in addition to and independently from regulation of the phosphorylation of endocytic proteins, TORC2 also controls endocytosis by modulating PM tension. Elevated PM tension, upon TORC2 inhibition, impinges on endocytosis at two different levels by (1) severing the bonds between the PM adaptor proteins Sla2 and Ent1 and the actin cytoskeleton and (2) hindering recruitment of Rvs167, an N-BAR-containing protein important for vesicle fission to endocytosis sites. These results underline the importance of biophysical cues in the regulation of cellular and molecular processes.
Sphingolipids and membrane targets for therapeutics.
Curr Opin Chem Biol, 2019 Jun; 50 : 19-28
Lipids and membranes are often strongly altered in various diseases and pathologies, but are not often targeted for therapeutic advantage. In particular, the sphingolipids are particularly sensitive to altered physiology and have been implicated as important players in not only several rare hereditary diseases, but also other major pathologies, including cancer. This review discusses some potential targets in the sphingolipid pathway and describes how the initial drug compounds have been evolved to create potentially improved therapeutics. This reveals how lipids and their interactions with proteins can be used for therapeutic advantage. We also discuss the possibility that modification of the physical properties of membranes could also affect intracellular signaling and be of therapeutic interest.
TOR Signaling Is Going through a Phase.
Cell Metab, 2019 May 7; 29 (5): 1019-1021
Recently in Cell, Kato et al. (2019) and Yang et al. (2019) report that reversible oxidation of multiple methionines in a region of Pbp1, the yeast paralog of ataxin-2 protein, couples metabolic redox status to phase separation of Pbp1 into liquid-like condensates. In turn, Pbp1 condensates inhibit target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1) signaling and thereby induce autophagy and restore metabolic homeostasis.
Decrease in plasma membrane tension triggers PtdIns(4,5)P2 phase separation to inactivate TORC2.
Nat Cell Biol, 2018 Sep; 20 (9): 1043-1051
The target of rapamycin complex 2 (TORC2) plays a key role in maintaining the homeostasis of plasma membrane (PM) tension. TORC2 activation following increased PM tension involves redistribution of the Slm1 and 2 paralogues from PM invaginations known as eisosomes into membrane compartments containing TORC2. How Slm1/2 relocalization is triggered, and if/how this plays a role in TORC2 inactivation with decreased PM tension, is unknown. Using osmotic shocks and palmitoylcarnitine as orthogonal tools to manipulate PM tension, we demonstrate that decreased PM tension triggers spontaneous, energy-independent reorganization of pre-existing phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate into discrete invaginated membrane domains, which cluster and inactivate TORC2. These results demonstrate that increased and decreased membrane tension are sensed through different mechanisms, highlighting a role for membrane lipid phase separation in mechanotransduction.
Cryo-EM structure of Saccharomyces cerevisiae target of rapamycin complex 2.
Nat Commun, 2017 Nov 23; 8 (1): 1729
The target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase assembles into two distinct multiprotein complexes, conserved across eukaryote evolution. In contrast to TOR complex 1 (TORC1), TORC2 kinase activity is not inhibited by the macrolide rapamycin. Here, we present the structure of Saccharomyces cerevisiae TORC2 determined by electron cryo-microscopy. TORC2 contains six subunits assembling into a 1.4 MDa rhombohedron. Tor2 and Lst8 form the common core of both TOR complexes. Avo3/Rictor is unique to TORC2, but interacts with the same HEAT repeats of Tor2 that are engaged by Kog1/Raptor in mammalian TORC1, explaining the mutual exclusivity of these two proteins. Density, which we conclude is Avo3, occludes the FKBP12-rapamycin-binding site of Tor2's FRB domain rendering TORC2 rapamycin insensitive and recessing the kinase active site. Although mobile, Avo1/hSin1 further restricts access to the active site as its conserved-region-in-the-middle (CRIM) domain is positioned along an edge of the TORC2 active-site-cleft, consistent with a role for CRIM in substrate recruitment.
TORC1 organized in inhibited domains (TOROIDs) regulate TORC1 activity.
Nature, 2017 Oct 12; 550 (7675): 265-269
The target of rapamycin (TOR) is a eukaryotic serine/threonine protein kinase that functions in two distinct complexes, TORC1 and TORC2, to regulate growth and metabolism. GTPases, responding to signals generated by abiotic stressors, nutrients, and, in metazoans, growth factors, play an important but poorly understood role in TORC1 regulation. Here we report that, in budding yeast, glucose withdrawal (which leads to an acute loss of TORC1 kinase activity) triggers a similarly rapid Rag GTPase-dependent redistribution of TORC1 from being semi-uniform around the vacuolar membrane to a single, vacuole-associated cylindrical structure visible by super-resolution optical microscopy. Three-dimensional reconstructions of cryo-electron micrograph images of these purified cylinders demonstrate that TORC1 oligomerizes into a higher-level hollow helical assembly, which we name a TOROID (TORC1 organized in inhibited domain). Fitting of the recently described mammalian TORC1 structure into our helical map reveals that oligomerization leads to steric occlusion of the active site. Guided by the implications from our reconstruction, we present a TOR1 allele that prevents both TOROID formation and TORC1 inactivation in response to glucose withdrawal, demonstrating that oligomerization is necessary for TORC1 inactivation. Our results reveal a novel mechanism by which Rag GTPases regulate TORC1 activity and suggest that the reversible assembly and/or disassembly of higher-level structures may be an underappreciated mechanism for the regulation of protein kinases.
TORC2 Structure and Function.
Trends Biochem Sci, 2016 Jun; 41 (6): 532-545
The target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase functions in two multiprotein complexes, TORC1 and TORC2. Although both complexes are evolutionarily conserved, only TORC1 is acutely inhibited by rapamycin. Consequently, only TORC1 signaling is relatively well understood; and, at present, only mammalian TORC1 is a validated drug target, pursued in immunosuppression and oncology. However, the knowledge void surrounding TORC2 is dissipating. Acute inhibition of TORC2 with small molecules is now possible and structural studies of both TORC1 and TORC2 have recently been reported. Here we review these recent advances as well as observations made from tissue-specific mTORC2 knockout mice. Together these studies help define TORC2 structure-function relationships and suggest that mammalian TORC2 may one day also become a bona fide clinical target.
TORC1 and TORC2 work together to regulate ribosomal protein S6 phosphorylation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Mol Biol Cell, 2016 Jan 15; 27 (2): 397-409
Nutrient-sensitive phosphorylation of the S6 protein of the 40S subunit of the eukaryote ribosome is highly conserved. However, despite four decades of research, the functional consequences of this modification remain unknown. Revisiting this enigma in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we found that the regulation of Rps6 phosphorylation on Ser-232 and Ser-233 is mediated by both TOR complex 1 (TORC1) and TORC2. TORC1 regulates phosphorylation of both sites via the poorly characterized AGC-family kinase Ypk3 and the PP1 phosphatase Glc7, whereas TORC2 regulates phosphorylation of only the N-terminal phosphosite via Ypk1. Cells expressing a nonphosphorylatable variant of Rps6 display a reduced growth rate and a 40S biogenesis defect, but these phenotypes are not observed in cells in which Rps6 kinase activity is compromised. Furthermore, using polysome profiling and ribosome profiling, we failed to uncover a role of Rps6 phosphorylation in either global translation or translation of individual mRNAs. Taking the results together, this work depicts the signaling cascades orchestrating Rps6 phosphorylation in budding yeast, challenges the notion that Rps6 phosphorylation plays a role in translation, and demonstrates that observations made with Rps6 knock-ins must be interpreted cautiously.
TOR Complexes and the Maintenance of Cellular Homeostasis.
Trends Cell Biol, 2016 Feb; 26 (2): 148-159
The Target of Rapamycin (TOR) is a conserved serine/threonine (ser/thr) kinase that functions in two, distinct, multiprotein complexes called TORC1 and TORC2. Each complex regulates different aspects of eukaryote growth: TORC1 regulates cell volume and/or mass by influencing protein synthesis and turnover, while TORC2, as detailed in this review, regulates cell surface area by influencing lipid production and intracellular turgor. TOR complexes function in feedback loops, implying that downstream effectors are also likely to be involved in upstream regulation. In this regard, the notion that TORCs function primarily as mediators of cellular and organismal homeostasis is fundamentally different from the current, predominate view of TOR as a direct transducer of extracellular biotic and abiotic signals.
Molecular Basis of the Rapamycin Insensitivity of Target Of Rapamycin Complex 2.
Mol Cell, 2015 Jun 18; 58 (6): 977-988
Target of Rapamycin (TOR) plays central roles in the regulation of eukaryote growth as the hub of two essential multiprotein complexes: TORC1, which is rapamycin-sensitive, and the lesser characterized TORC2, which is not. TORC2 is a key regulator of lipid biosynthesis and Akt-mediated survival signaling. In spite of its importance, its structure and the molecular basis of its rapamycin insensitivity are unknown. Using crosslinking-mass spectrometry and electron microscopy, we determined the architecture of TORC2. TORC2 displays a rhomboid shape with pseudo-2-fold symmetry and a prominent central cavity. Our data indicate that the C-terminal part of Avo3, a subunit unique to TORC2, is close to the FKBP12-rapamycin-binding domain of Tor2. Removal of this sequence generated a FKBP12-rapamycin-sensitive TORC2 variant, which provides a powerful tool for deciphering TORC2 function in vivo. Using this variant, we demonstrate a role for TORC2 in G2/M cell-cycle progression.
Target of Rapamycin Complex 2 Regulates Actin Polarization and Endocytosis via Multiple Pathways.
J Biol Chem, 2015 Jun 12; 290 (24): 14963-14978
Target of rapamycin is a Ser/Thr kinase that operates in two conserved multiprotein complexes, TORC1 and TORC2. Unlike TORC1, TORC2 is insensitive to rapamycin, and its functional characterization is less advanced. Previous genetic studies demonstrated that TORC2 depletion leads to loss of actin polarization and loss of endocytosis. To determine how TORC2 regulates these readouts, we engineered a yeast strain in which TORC2 can be specifically and acutely inhibited by the imidazoquinoline NVP-BHS345. Kinetic analyses following inhibition of TORC2, supported with quantitative phosphoproteomics, revealed that TORC2 regulates these readouts via distinct pathways as follows: rapidly through direct protein phosphorylation cascades and slowly through indirect changes in the tensile properties of the plasma membrane. The rapid signaling events are mediated in large part through the phospholipid flippase kinases Fpk1 and Fpk2, whereas the slow signaling pathway involves increased plasma membrane tension resulting from a gradual depletion of sphingolipids. Additional hits in our phosphoproteomic screens highlight the intricate control TORC2 exerts over diverse aspects of eukaryote cell physiology.
TORC2 signaling pathway guarantees genome stability in the face of DNA strand breaks.
Mol Cell, 2013 Sep 26; 51 (6): 829-839
A chemicogenetic screen was performed in budding yeast mutants that have a weakened replication stress response. This identified an inhibitor of target of rapamycin (TOR) complexes 1 and 2 that selectively enhances the sensitivity of sgs1Δ cells to hydroxyurea and camptothecin. More importantly, the inhibitor has strong synthetic lethality in combination with either the break-inducing antibiotic Zeocin or ionizing radiation, independent of the strain background. Lethality correlates with a rapid fragmentation of chromosomes that occurs only when TORC2, but not TORC1, is repressed. Genetic inhibition of Tor2 kinase, or its downstream effector kinases Ypk1/Ypk2, conferred similar synergistic effects in the presence of Zeocin. Given that Ypk1/Ypk2 controls the actin cytoskeleton, we tested the effects of actin modulators latrunculin A and jasplakinolide. These phenocopy TORC2 inhibition on Zeocin, although modulation of calcineurin-sensitive transcription does not. These results implicate TORC2-mediated actin filament regulation in the survival of low levels of DNA damage.
Growth control: function follows form.
Curr Biol, 2013 Jul 22; 23 (14): R607-R609
Amino acid signaling in high definition.
Structure, 2012 Dec 5; 20 (12): 1993-1994
In this issue of Structure, Zhang and colleagues present the structure of the Ego3 dimer, demonstrating that dimerization is an obligate prerequisite in amino acid-induced TORC1 activation.
Identification of a small molecule yeast TORC1 inhibitor with a multiplex screen based on flow cytometry.
ACS Chem Biol, 2012 Apr 20; 7 (4): 715-722
TOR (target of rapamycin) is a serine/threonine kinase, evolutionarily conserved from yeast to human, which functions as a fundamental controller of cell growth. The moderate clinical benefit of rapamycin in mTOR-based therapy of many cancers favors the development of new TOR inhibitors. Here we report a high-throughput flow cytometry multiplexed screen using five GFP-tagged yeast clones that represent the readouts of four branches of the TORC1 signaling pathway in budding yeast. Each GFP-tagged clone was differentially color-coded, and the GFP signal of each clone was measured simultaneously by flow cytometry, which allows rapid prioritization of compounds that likely act through direct modulation of TORC1 or proximal signaling components. A total of 255 compounds were confirmed in dose-response analysis to alter GFP expression in one or more clones. To validate the concept of the high-throughput screen, we have characterized CID 3528206, a small molecule most likely to act on TORC1 as it alters GFP expression in all five GFP clones in a manner analogous to that of rapamycin. We have shown that CID 3528206 inhibited yeast cell growth and that CID 3528206 inhibited TORC1 activity both in vitro and in vivo with EC(50)'s of 150 nM and 3.9 μM, respectively. The results of microarray analysis and yeast GFP collection screen further support the notion that CID 3528206 and rapamycin modulate similar cellular pathways. Together, these results indicate that the HTS has identified a potentially useful small molecule for further development of TOR inhibitors.
Plasma membrane stress induces relocalization of Slm proteins and activation of TORC2 to promote sphingolipid synthesis.
Nat Cell Biol, 2012 Apr 15; 14 (5): 542-547
The plasma membrane delimits the cell, and its integrity is essential for cell survival. Lipids and proteins form domains of distinct composition within the plasma membrane. How changes in plasma membrane composition are perceived, and how the abundance of lipids in the plasma membrane is regulated to balance changing needs remains largely unknown. Here, we show that the Slm1/2 paralogues and the target of rapamycin kinase complex 2 (TORC2) play a central role in this regulation. Membrane stress, induced by either inhibition of sphingolipid metabolism or by mechanically stretching the plasma membrane, redistributes Slm proteins between distinct plasma membrane domains. This increases Slm protein association with and activation of TORC2, which is restricted to the domain known as the membrane compartment containing TORC2 (MCT; ref. ). As TORC2 regulates sphingolipid metabolism, our discoveries reveal a homeostasis mechanism in which TORC2 responds to plasma membrane stress to mediate compensatory changes in cellular lipid synthesis and hence modulates the composition of the plasma membrane. The components of this pathway and their involvement in signalling after membrane stretch are evolutionarily conserved.
Target of rapamycin (TOR) in nutrient signaling and growth control.
Genetics, 2011 Dec; 189 (4): 1177-1201
TOR (Target Of Rapamycin) is a highly conserved protein kinase that is important in both fundamental and clinical biology. In fundamental biology, TOR is a nutrient-sensitive, central controller of cell growth and aging. In clinical biology, TOR is implicated in many diseases and is the target of the drug rapamycin used in three different therapeutic areas. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has played a prominent role in both the discovery of TOR and the elucidation of its function. Here we review the TOR signaling network in S. cerevisiae.
Sch9 regulates ribosome biogenesis via Stb3, Dot6 and Tod6 and the histone deacetylase complex RPD3L.
EMBO J, 2011 Jul 5; 30 (15): 3052-3064
TORC1 is a conserved multisubunit kinase complex that regulates many aspects of eukaryotic growth including the biosynthesis of ribosomes. The TOR protein kinase resident in TORC1 is responsive to environmental cues and is potently inhibited by the natural product rapamycin. Recent characterization of the rapamycin-sensitive phosphoproteome in yeast has yielded insights into how TORC1 regulates growth. Here, we show that Sch9, an AGC family kinase and direct substrate of TORC1, promotes ribosome biogenesis (Ribi) and ribosomal protein (RP) gene expression via direct inhibitory phosphorylation of the transcriptional repressors Stb3, Dot6 and Tod6. Deletion of STB3, DOT6 and TOD6 partially bypasses the growth and cell size defects of an sch9 strain and reveals interdependent regulation of both Ribi and RP gene expression, and other aspects of Ribi. Dephosphorylation of Stb3, Dot6 and Tod6 enables recruitment of the RPD3L histone deacetylase complex to repress Ribi/RP gene promoters. Taken together with previous studies, these results suggest that Sch9 is a master regulator of ribosome biogenesis through the control of Ribi, RP, ribosomal RNA and tRNA gene transcription.
A brief history of TOR.
Biochem Soc Trans, 2011 Apr; 39 (2): 437-442
The TOR (target of rapamycin) serine/threonine kinases are fascinating in that they influence many different aspects of eukaryote physiology including processes often dysregulated in disease. Beginning with the initial characterization of rapamycin as an antifungal agent, studies with yeast have contributed greatly to our understanding of the molecular pathways in which TORs operate. Recently, building on advances in quantitative MS, the rapamycin-dependent phosphoproteome in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae was elucidated. These studies emphasize the central importance of TOR and highlight its many previously unrecognized functions. One of these, the regulation of intermediary metabolism, is discussed.
Chemical biology approaches to membrane homeostasis and function.
Chimia (Aarau), 2011; 65 (11): 849-852
The study of membranes is at a turning point. New theories about membrane structure and function have recently been proposed, however, new technologies, combining chemical, physical, and biochemical approaches are necessary to test these hypotheses. In particular, the NCCR in chemical biology aims to visualize and characterize membrane microdomains and determine their function during hormone signaling.
Phosphoproteomic analysis reveals interconnected system-wide responses to perturbations of kinases and phosphatases in yeast.
Sci Signal, 2010 Dec 21; 3 (153): rs4
The phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of proteins by kinases and phosphatases constitute an essential regulatory network in eukaryotic cells. This network supports the flow of information from sensors through signaling systems to effector molecules and ultimately drives the phenotype and function of cells, tissues, and organisms. Dysregulation of this process has severe consequences and is one of the main factors in the emergence and progression of diseases, including cancer. Thus, major efforts have been invested in developing specific inhibitors that modulate the activity of individual kinases or phosphatases; however, it has been difficult to assess how such pharmacological interventions would affect the cellular signaling network as a whole. Here, we used label-free, quantitative phosphoproteomics in a systematically perturbed model organism (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) to determine the relationships between 97 kinases, 27 phosphatases, and more than 1000 phosphoproteins. We identified 8814 regulated phosphorylation events, describing the first system-wide protein phosphorylation network in vivo. Our results show that, at steady state, inactivation of most kinases and phosphatases affected large parts of the phosphorylation-modulated signal transduction machinery-and not only the immediate downstream targets. The observed cellular growth phenotype was often well maintained despite the perturbations, arguing for considerable robustness in the system. Our results serve to constrain future models of cellular signaling and reinforce the idea that simple linear representations of signaling pathways might be insufficient for drug development and for describing organismal homeostasis.
The Vam6 GEF controls TORC1 by activating the EGO complex.
Mol Cell, 2009 Sep 11; 35 (5): 563-573
The target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1) is a central regulator of eukaryotic cell growth that is activated by a variety of hormones (e.g., insulin) and nutrients (e.g., amino acids) and is deregulated in various cancers. Here, we report that the yeast Rag GTPase homolog Gtr1, a component of the vacuolar-membrane-associated EGO complex (EGOC), interacts with and activates TORC1 in an amino-acid-sensitive manner. Expression of a constitutively active (GTP-bound) Gtr1(GTP), which interacted strongly with TORC1, rendered TORC1 partially resistant to leucine deprivation, whereas expression of a growth inhibitory, GDP-bound Gtr1(GDP), caused constitutively low TORC1 activity. We also show that the nucleotide-binding status of Gtr1 is regulated by the conserved guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) Vam6. Thus, in addition to its regulatory role in homotypic vacuolar fusion and vacuole protein sorting within the HOPS complex, Vam6 also controls TORC1 function by activating the Gtr1 subunit of the EGO complex.
Characterization of the rapamycin-sensitive phosphoproteome reveals that Sch9 is a central coordinator of protein synthesis.
Genes Dev, 2009 Aug 15; 23 (16): 1929-1943
The target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1) is an essential multiprotein complex conserved from yeast to humans. Under favorable growth conditions, and in the absence of the macrolide rapamycin, TORC1 is active, and influences virtually all aspects of cell growth. Although two direct effectors of yeast TORC1 have been reported (Tap42, a regulator of PP2A phosphatases and Sch9, an AGC family kinase), the signaling pathways that couple TORC1 to its distal effectors were not well understood. To elucidate these pathways we developed and employed a quantitative, label-free mass spectrometry approach. Analyses of the rapamycin-sensitive phosphoproteomes in various genetic backgrounds revealed both documented and novel TORC1 effectors and allowed us to partition phosphorylation events between Tap42 and Sch9. Follow-up detailed characterization shows that Sch9 regulates RNA polymerases I and III, the latter via Maf1, in addition to translation initiation and the expression of ribosomal protein and ribosome biogenesis genes. This demonstrates that Sch9 is a master regulator of protein synthesis.
Functional interactions between sphingolipids and sterols in biological membranes regulating cell physiology.
Mol Biol Cell, 2009 Apr; 20 (7): 2083-2095
Sterols and sphingolipids are limited to eukaryotic cells, and their interaction has been proposed to favor formation of lipid microdomains. Although there is abundant biophysical evidence demonstrating their interaction in simple systems, convincing evidence is lacking to show that they function together in cells. Using lipid analysis by mass spectrometry and a genetic approach on mutants in sterol metabolism, we show that cells adjust their membrane composition in response to mutant sterol structures preferentially by changing their sphingolipid composition. Systematic combination of mutations in sterol biosynthesis with mutants in sphingolipid hydroxylation and head group turnover give a large number of synthetic and suppression phenotypes. Our unbiased approach provides compelling evidence that sterols and sphingolipids function together in cells. We were not able to correlate any cellular phenotype we measured with plasma membrane fluidity as measured using fluorescence anisotropy. This questions whether the increase in liquid order phases that can be induced by sterol-sphingolipid interactions plays an important role in cells. Our data revealing that cells have a mechanism to sense the quality of their membrane sterol composition has led us to suggest that proteins might recognize sterol-sphingolipid complexes and to hypothesize the coevolution of sterols and sphingolipids.
Active-site inhibitors of mTOR target rapamycin-resistant outputs of mTORC1 and mTORC2.
PLoS Biol, 2009 Feb 10; 7 (2): e38
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.
Caffeine extends yeast lifespan by targeting TORC1.
Mol Microbiol, 2008 Jul; 69 (1): 277-285
Dietary nutrient limitation (dietary restriction) is known to increase lifespan in a variety of organisms. Although the molecular events that couple dietary restriction to increased lifespan are not clear, studies of the model eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae have implicated several nutrient-sensitive kinases, including the target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1), Sch9, protein kinase A (PKA) and Rim15. We have recently demonstrated that TORC1 activates Sch9 by direct phosphorylation. We now show that Sch9 inhibits Rim15 also by direct phosphorylation. Treatment of yeast cells with the specific TORC1 inhibitor rapamycin or caffeine releases Rim15 from TORC1-Sch9-mediated inhibition and consequently increases lifespan. This kinase cascade appears to have been evolutionarily conserved, suggesting that caffeine may extend lifespan in other eukaryotes, including man.
Sch9 is a major target of TORC1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Mol Cell, 2007 Jun 8; 26 (5): 663-674
The Target of Rapamycin (TOR) protein is a Ser/Thr kinase that functions in two distinct multiprotein complexes: TORC1 and TORC2. These conserved complexes regulate many different aspects of cell growth in response to intracellular and extracellular cues. Here we report that the AGC kinase Sch9 is a substrate of yeast TORC1. Six amino acids in the C terminus of Sch9 are directly phosphorylated by TORC1. Phosphorylation of these residues is lost upon rapamycin treatment as well as carbon or nitrogen starvation and transiently reduced following application of osmotic, oxidative, or thermal stress. TORC1-dependent phosphorylation is required for Sch9 activity, and replacement of residues phosphorylated by TORC1 with Asp/Glu renders Sch9 activity TORC1 independent. Sch9 is required for TORC1 to properly regulate ribosome biogenesis, translation initiation, and entry into G0 phase, but not expression of Gln3-dependent genes. Our results suggest that Sch9 functions analogously to the mammalian TORC1 substrate S6K1 rather than the mTORC2 substrate PKB/Akt.
Mutual antagonism of target of rapamycin and calcineurin signaling.
J Biol Chem, 2006 Nov 3; 281 (44): 33000-33007
Cell growth control: little eukaryotes make big contributions.
Oncogene, 2006 Oct 16; 25 (48): 6392-6415
The story of rapamycin is a pharmaceutical fairytale. Discovered as an antifungal activity in a soil sample collected on Easter Island, this macrocyclic lactone and its derivatives are now billion dollar drugs, used in, and being evaluated for, a number of clinical applications. Taking advantage of its antifungal property, the molecular Target Of Rapamycin, TOR, was first described in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. TORs encode large, Ser/Thr protein kinases that reside in two distinct, structurally and functionally conserved, multi-protein complexes. In yeast, these complexes coordinate many different aspects of cell growth. TOR complex 1, TORC1, promotes protein synthesis and other anabolic processes, while inhibiting macroautophagy and other catabolic and stress-response processes. TORC2 primarily regulates cell polarity, although additional readouts of this complex are beginning to be characterized. TORC1 appears to be activated by nutrient cues and inhibited by stresses and rapamycin; however, detailed mechanisms are not known. In contrast, TORC2 is insensitive to rapamycin and physiological regulators of this complex have yet to be defined. Given the unsurpassed resources available to yeast researchers, this simple eukaryote continues to contribute to our understanding of eukaryotic cell growth in general and TOR function in particular.
A pharmacological map of the PI3-K family defines a role for p110alpha in insulin signaling.
Cell, 2006 May 19; 125 (4): 733-747
Phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3-Ks) are an important emerging class of drug targets, but the unique roles of PI3-K isoforms remain poorly defined. We describe here an approach to pharmacologically interrogate the PI3-K family. A chemically diverse panel of PI3-K inhibitors was synthesized, and their target selectivity was biochemically enumerated, revealing cryptic homologies across targets and chemotypes. Crystal structures of three inhibitors bound to p110gamma identify a conformationally mobile region that is uniquely exploited by selective compounds. This chemical array was then used to define the PI3-K isoforms required for insulin signaling. We find that p110alpha is the primary insulin-responsive PI3-K in cultured cells, whereas p110beta is dispensable but sets a phenotypic threshold for p110alpha activity. Compounds targeting p110alpha block the acute effects of insulin treatment in vivo, whereas a p110beta inhibitor has no effect. These results illustrate systematic target validation using a matrix of inhibitors that span a protein family.
TOR signaling in growth and metabolism.
Cell, 2006 Feb 10; 124 (3): 471-484
The target of rapamycin (TOR) is a conserved Ser/Thr kinase that regulates cell growth and metabolism in response to environmental cues. Here, highlighting contributions from studies in model organisms, we review mammalian TOR complexes and the signaling branches they mediate. TOR is part of two distinct multiprotein complexes, TOR complex 1 (TORC1), which is sensitive to rapamycin, and TORC2, which is not. The physiological consequences of mammalian TORC1 dysregulation suggest that inhibitors of mammalian TOR may be useful in the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmunity, and metabolic disorders.
The TOR signalling network from yeast to man.
Int J Biochem Cell Biol, 2006; 38 (9): 1476-1481
The target of rapamycin, TOR, is an essential ser/thr protein kinase that functions in two distinct multiprotein complexes, TOR complex 1 and 2. The structure and functions of these complexes have been conserved from yeast to man. TOR complex 1 is inhibited by rapamycin and is thought to couple growth cues to cellular metabolism; TOR complex 2 is not inhibited by rapamycin and appears to regulate spatial aspects of growth such as cell polarity. Work done in a variety of model systems, continues to contribute to our current understanding of this TOR signalling network. Recent studies in flies and mammalian tissue culture cells have elucidated many signalling components upstream of TOR complex 1. These studies also suggest that aberrant mammalian TOR complex 1 signalling contributes to a number of pathologies ranging from metabolic diseases to hyperproliferative disorders and cancers. Consequently the efficacies of rapamycin and related compounds in treating such diseases are being evaluated in clinical trials.