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Cell Metab. 2008 May;7(5):456-65. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2008.03.002.

Amino acids activate mTOR complex 1 via Ca2+/CaM signaling to hVps34.

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Department of Molecular Oncogenesis, Genome Research Institute, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45237, USA.


Excess levels of circulating amino acids (AAs) play a causal role in specific human pathologies, including obesity and type 2 diabetes. Moreover, obesity and diabetes are contributing factors in the development of cancer, with recent studies suggesting that this link is mediated in part by AA activation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) Complex 1. AAs appear to mediate this response through class III phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), or human vacuolar protein sorting 34 (hVps34), rather than through the canonical class I PI3K pathway used by growth factors and hormones. Here we show that AAs induce a rise in intracellular Ca(2+) ([Ca(2+)](i)), which triggers mTOR Complex 1 and hVps34 activation. We demonstrate that the rise in [Ca(2+)](i) increases the direct binding of Ca(2+)/calmodulin (CaM) to an evolutionarily conserved motif in hVps34 that is required for lipid kinase activity and increased mTOR Complex 1 signaling. These findings have important implications regarding the basic signaling mechanisms linking metabolic disorders with cancer progression.

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