Glucose is a major requirement for biological life. Its concentration is constantly sensed at the cellular level, allowing for adequate responses to any changes of glucose availability. Such responses are mediated by key sensors and signaling pathway components that adapt cellular metabolism to glucose levels. One of the major hubs of these responses is mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase, which forms the mTORC1 and mTORC2 protein complexes. Under physiological glucose concentrations, mTORC1 is activated and stimulates a number of proteins and enzymes involved in anabolic processes, while restricting the autophagic process. Conversely, when glucose levels are low, mTORC1 is inhibited, in turn leading to the repression of numerous anabolic processes, sparing ATP and antioxidants. Understanding how mTORC1 activity is regulated by glucose is not only important to better delineate the biological function of mTOR, but also to highlight potential therapeutic strategies for treating diseases characterized by deregulated glucose availability, as is the case of cancer. In this perspective, we depict the different sensors and upstream proteins responsible of controlling mTORC1 activity in response to changes in glucose concentration. This includes the major energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), as well as other independent players. The impact of such modes of regulation of mTORC1 on cellular processes is also discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology
- Cancer Research