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Physiol Rev. 2015 Oct;95(4):1157-87. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00038.2014.

mTOR in Brain Physiology and Pathologies.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UMR-5203, Institut de Génomique Fonctionnelle, Montpellier, France; Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U1191, Montpellier, France; and Université de Montpellier, UMR-5203, Montpellier, France.


TOR (target of rapamycin) and its mammalian ortholog mTOR have been discovered in an effort to understand the mechanisms of action of the immunosuppressant drug rapamycin extracted from a bacterium of the Easter Island (Rapa Nui) soil. mTOR is a serine/threonine kinase found in two functionally distinct complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, which are differentially regulated by a great number of nutrients such as glucose and amino acids, energy (oxygen and ATP/AMP content), growth factors, hormones, and neurotransmitters. mTOR controls many basic cellular functions such as protein synthesis, energy metabolism, cell size, lipid metabolism, autophagy, mitochondria, and lysosome biogenesis. In addition, mTOR-controlled signaling pathways regulate many integrated physiological functions of the nervous system including neuronal development, synaptic plasticity, memory storage, and cognition. Thus it is not surprising that deregulation of mTOR signaling is associated with many neurological and psychiatric disorders. Preclinical and preliminary clinical studies indicate that inhibition of mTORC1 can be beneficial for some pathological conditions such as epilepsy, cognitive impairment, and brain tumors, whereas stimulation of mTORC1 (direct or indirect) can be beneficial for other pathologies such as depression or axonal growth and regeneration.

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