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Mol Cell Biol. 2004 Jan;24(1):200-16.

mTOR controls cell cycle progression through its cell growth effectors S6K1 and 4E-BP1/eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) integrates nutrient and mitogen signals to regulate cell growth (increased cell mass and cell size) and cell division. The immunosuppressive drug rapamycin inhibits cell cycle progression via inhibition of mTOR; however, the signaling pathways by which mTOR regulates cell cycle progression have remained poorly defined. Here we demonstrate that restoration of mTOR signaling (by using a rapamycin-resistant mutant of mTOR) rescues rapamycin-inhibited G(1)-phase progression, and restoration of signaling along the mTOR-dependent S6K1 or 4E-BP1/eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) pathways provides partial rescue. Furthermore, interfering RNA-mediated reduction of S6K1 expression or overexpression of mTOR-insensitive 4E-BP1 isoforms that block eIF4E activity inhibit G(1)-phase progression individually and additively. Thus, the activities of both the S6K1 and 4E-BP1/eIF4E pathways are required for and independently mediate mTOR-dependent G(1)-phase progression. In addition, overexpression of constitutively active mutants of S6K1 or wild-type eIF4E accelerates serum-stimulated G(1)-phase progression, and stable expression of wild-type S6K1 confers a proliferative advantage in low-serum-containing media, suggesting that the activity of each of these pathways is limiting for cell proliferation. These data demonstrate that, as for the regulation of cell growth and cell size, the S6K1 and 4E-BP1/eIF4E pathways each represent critical mediators of mTOR-dependent cell cycle control.

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