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Cancer Biol Ther. 2003 Sep-Oct;2(5):471-6.

Rhebbing up mTOR: new insights on TSC1 and TSC2, and the pathogenesis of tuberous sclerosis.

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Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Tuberous sclerosis is an autosomal dominant human genetic disorder in which distinctive tumors called hamartomas develop. Germline mutations in either TSC1 or TSC2 cause this syndrome, and hamartomas typically display second hit events with loss of the remaining normal allele. Studies initiated in Drosophila have identified a role for the Tsc1 and Tsc2 genes in the regulation of cell and organ size, and genetic interaction studies have placed them in the PI3K-Akt-mTOR-S6K pathway. Biochemical studies have shown that activated Akt phosphorylates TSC2 in the TSC1/TSC2 protein complex, inactivating it; while TSC1/TSC2 has GAP activity for the Rheb GTPase (a member of the ras family), and activated Rheb-GTP activates mTOR. Thus, in cells lacking TSC1 or TSC2 there are increased levels of Rheb-GTP which leads to activation of mTOR, leading to cell size increase and growth. These developments provide enhanced understanding of this signaling pathway and fundamental insights into the pathogenesis of tuberous sclerosis, and open the possibility of treatment for hamartomas by several pharmacologic approaches.

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