The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a key regulator of protein translation. Signaling via mTOR is increased by growth factors but decreased during nutrient deprivation. Previous studies have identified Ser2448 as a nutrient-regulated phosphorylation site located in the mTOR catalytic domain, insulin stimulates Ser2448 phosphorylation via protein kinase B (PKB), while Ser2448 phosphorylation is attenuated with amino acid starvation. Here we have identified Thr2446 as a novel nutrient-regulated phosphorylation site on mTOR. Thr2446 becomes phosphorylated when CHO-IR cells are nutrient-deprived, but phosphorylation is reduced by insulin stimulation. Nutrient deprivation activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). To test whether this could be involved in regulating phoshorylation of mTOR, we treated cultured murine myotubes with 5'-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleoside (AICAR) or dinitrophenol (DNP). Both treatments activated AMPK and also caused a concomitant increase in phosphorylation of Thr2446 and a parallel decrease in insulin's ability to phosphorylate p70 S6 kinase. In vitro kinase assays using peptides based on the sequence in amino acids 2440-2551 of mTOR found that PKB and AMPK are capable of phosphorylating sites in this region. However, phosphorylation by PKB is restricted when Thr2446 is mutated to an acidic residue mimicking phosphorylation. Conversely, AMP-kinase-induced phosphorylation is reduced when Ser2448 is phosphorylated. These data suggest differential phosphorylation Thr2446 and Ser2448 could act as a switch mechanism to integrate signals from nutrient status and growth factors to control the regulation of protein translation.
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