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Annu Rev Biochem. 2011;80:1001-32. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biochem-062209-094414.

Amino acid signaling in TOR activation.

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Department of Pharmacology and Moores Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


The target of rapamycin (TOR) is a central cell growth regulator conserved from yeast to mammals. Uncontrolled TOR activation is commonly observed in human cancers. TOR forms two distinct structural and functional complexes, TORC1 and TORC2. TORC1 promotes cell growth and cell size by stimulating protein synthesis. A wide range of signals, including nutrients, energy levels, and growth factors, are known to control TORC1 activity. Among them, amino acids (AA) not only potently activate TORC1 but are also required for TORC1 activation by other stimuli, such as growth factors. The mechanisms of growth factors and cellular energy status in activating TORC1 have been well elucidated, whereas the molecular basis of AA signaling is just emerging. Recent advances in the role of AA signaling on TORC1 activation have revealed key components, including the Rag GTPases, protein kinases, nutrient transporters, and the intracellular trafficking machinery, in relaying AA signals to TORC1 activation.

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