Research Article

Structural basis for leucine sensing by the Sestrin2-mTORC1 pathway

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Science  19 Nov 2015:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2087

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Eukaryotic cells coordinate growth with the availability of nutrients through mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), a master growth regulator. Leucine is of particular importance and activates mTORC1 via the Rag GTPases and their regulators GATOR1 and GATOR2. Sestrin2 interacts with GATOR2 and is a leucine sensor. We present the 2.7-Å crystal structure of Sestrin2 in complex with leucine. Leucine binds through a single pocket that coordinates its charged functional groups and confers specificity for the hydrophobic side chain. A loop encloses leucine and forms a lid-latch mechanism required for binding. A structure-guided mutation in Sestrin2 that decreases its affinity for leucine leads to a concomitant increase in the leucine concentration required for mTORC1 activation in cells. These results provide a structural mechanism of amino acid sensing by the mTORC1 pathway.

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