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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2010 May;21(5):811-8. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2009111168. Epub 2010 Mar 25.

mTOR complex-2 activates ENaC by phosphorylating SGK1.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA.


The serum- and glucocorticoid-induced kinase 1 (SGK1) plays a central role in hormone regulation of epithelial sodium (Na+) channel (ENaC)-dependent Na+ transport in the distal nephron. Phosphorylation within a carboxy-terminal domain, designated the hydrophobic motif (HM), determines the activity of SGK1, but the identity of the HM kinase is unknown. Here, we show that the highly conserved serine-threonine kinase mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is essential for the phosphorylation of the HM of SGK1 and the activation of ENaC. We observed that mTOR, in conjunction with rictor (mTORC2), phosphorylated SGK1 and stimulated ENaC. In contrast, when mTOR assembled with raptor in the rapamycin-inhibited complex (mTORC1), it did not phosphorylate SGK1 or stimulate ENaC. Inhibition of mTOR blocked both SGK1 phosphorylation and ENaC-mediated Na+ transport, whereas specific inhibition of mTORC1 had no effect. Similarly, small hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown of rictor inhibited SGK1 phosphorylation and Na+ current, whereas knockdown of raptor had no effect. Finally, in co-immunoprecipitation experiments, SGK1 interacted selectively with rictor but not with raptor, suggesting selective recruitment of SGK1 to mTORC2. We conclude that mTOR, specifically mTORC2, is the HM kinase for SGK1 and is required for ENaC-mediated Na+ transport, thereby extending our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying Na+ balance.

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