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Mol Cell. 2008 Mar 14;29(5):541-51. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2007.12.023.

Loss of the tuberous sclerosis complex tumor suppressors triggers the unfolded protein response to regulate insulin signaling and apoptosis.

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Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Mammalian target of rapamycin, mTOR, is a major sensor of nutrient and energy availability in the cell and regulates a variety of cellular processes, including growth, proliferation, and metabolism. Loss of the tuberous sclerosis complex genes (TSC1 or TSC2) leads to constitutive activation of mTOR and downstream signaling elements, resulting in the development of tumors, neurological disorders, and at the cellular level, severe insulin/IGF-1 resistance. Here, we show that loss of TSC1 or TSC2 in cell lines and mouse or human tumors causes endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and activates the unfolded protein response (UPR). The resulting ER stress plays a significant role in the mTOR-mediated negative-feedback inhibition of insulin action and increases the vulnerability to apoptosis. These results demonstrate ER stress as a critical component of the pathologies associated with dysregulated mTOR activity and offer the possibility to exploit this mechanism for new therapeutic opportunities.

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