Mutations in either the TSC1 or TSC2 tumor suppressor gene are responsible for Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. The gene products of TSC1 and TSC2 form a functional complex and inhibit the phosphorylation of S6K and 4EBP1, two key regulators of translation. Here, we describe that TSC2 is regulated by cellular energy levels and plays an essential role in the cellular energy response pathway. Under energy starvation conditions, the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) phosphorylates TSC2 and enhances its activity. Phosphorylation of TSC2 by AMPK is required for translation regulation and cell size control in response to energy deprivation. Furthermore, TSC2 and its phosphorylation by AMPK protect cells from energy deprivation-induced apoptosis. These observations demonstrate a model where TSC2 functions as a key player in regulation of the common mTOR pathway of protein synthesis, cell growth, and viability in response to cellular energy levels.
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