A Tumor Suppressor Complex with GAP Activity for the Rag GTPases That Signal Amino Acid Sufficiency to mTORC1

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Science  31 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6136, pp. 1100-1106
DOI: 10.1126/science.1232044

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Limiting mTORC1

The mTORC1 protein kinase complex has important functions linking metabolism to cell growth and its functions are disrupted in common diseases, including cancer and diabetes. Bar-Peled et al. (p. 1100; see the Perspective by Shaw) discovered regulatory components that help turn down signaling by mTORC1 when cells are deprived of amino acids. Two complexes of proteins, GATOR1 and GATOR2, have opposite effects on activity and cellular localization of mTORC1. Components of the GATOR1 complex negatively regulate mTORC1 and appear to function as tumor supressors. Cancers with loss of GATOR1 function may be particularly amenable to therapeutic strategies that limit activity of mTORC1.


The mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) pathway promotes cell growth in response to many cues, including amino acids, which act through the Rag guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases) to promote mTORC1 translocation to the lysosomal surface, its site of activation. Although progress has been made in identifying positive regulators of the Rags, it is unknown if negative factors also exist. Here, we identify GATOR as a complex that interacts with the Rags and is composed of two subcomplexes we call GATOR1 and -2. Inhibition of GATOR1 subunits (DEPDC5, Nprl2, and Nprl3) makes mTORC1 signaling resistant to amino acid deprivation. In contrast, inhibition of GATOR2 subunits (Mios, WDR24, WDR59, Seh1L, and Sec13) suppresses mTORC1 signaling, and epistasis analysis shows that GATOR2 negatively regulates DEPDC5. GATOR1 has GTPase-activating protein (GAP) activity for RagA and RagB, and its components are mutated in human cancer. In cancer cells with inactivating mutations in GATOR1, mTORC1 is hyperactive and insensitive to amino acid starvation, and such cells are hypersensitive to rapamycin, an mTORC1 inhibitor. Thus, we identify a key negative regulator of the Rag GTPases and reveal that, like other mTORC1 regulators, Rag function can be deregulated in cancer.

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