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Mol Cell Biol. 2009 Mar;29(6):1411-20. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00782-08. Epub 2008 Dec 29.

Regulation of mTORC1 and mTORC2 complex assembly by phosphatidic acid: competition with rapamycin.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Hunter College of the City University of New York, New York, NY 10065, USA.


mTOR, the mammalian target of rapamycin, is a critical node for control of cell growth and survival and has widely been implicated in cancer survival signals. mTOR exists in two complexes: mTORC1 and mTORC2. Phospholipase D (PLD) and its metabolite phosphatidic acid (PA) have been implicated in the regulation of mTOR; however, their role has been controversial. We report here that suppression of PLD prevents phosphorylation of the mTORC1 substrate S6 kinase (S6K) at Thr389 and the mTORC2 substrate Akt at Ser473. Suppression of PLD also blocked insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation at Ser473 and the mTORC2-dependent phosphorylation of PRAS40. Importantly, PA was required for the association of mTOR with Raptor to form mTORC1 and that of mTOR with Rictor to form mTORC2. The effect of PA was competitive with rapamycin-with much higher concentrations of rapamycin needed to compete with the PA-mTORC2 interaction than with PA-mTORC1. Suppressing PA production substantially increased the sensitivity of mTORC2 to rapamycin. Data provided here demonstrate a PA requirement for the stabilization of both mTORC1 and mTORC2 complexes and reveal a mechanism for the inhibitory effect of rapamycin on mTOR. This study also suggests that by suppressing PLD activity, mTORC2 could be targeted therapeutically with rapamycin.

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