Cell hydration and mTOR-dependent signalling

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Insulin- and amino acid-induced signalling by the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) involves hyperphosphorylation of the p70 ribosomal S6 protein kinase (p70S6-kinase) and the eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) binding protein 4E-BP1 and contributes to regulation of protein metabolism. This review considers the impact of cell hydration on mTOR-dependent signalling. Although hypoosmotic hepatocyte swelling in some instances activates p70S6-kinase, the hypoosmolarity-induced proteolysis inhibition in perfused rat liver is insensitive to mTOR inhibition by rapamycin. Likewise, swelling-dependent proteolysis inhibition by insulin and swelling-independent proteolysis inhibition by leucine, a potent activator of p70S6-kinase and 4E-BP1 hyperphosphorylation, in perfused rat liver is insensitive to rapamycin, indicating that at least rapamycin-sensitive mTOR signalling is not involved. Hyperosmotic dehydration in different cell types produces inactivation of signalling components around mTOR, thereby attenuating insulin-induced glucose uptake, glycogen synthesis, and lipogenesis in adipocytes, and MAP-kinase phosphatase MKP-1 expression in hepatoma cells. Direct inactivation of mTOR, stimulation of the AMP-activated protein kinase, and the destabilization of individual proteins may impair mTOR signalling under dehydrating conditions. Further investigation of the crosstalk between the mTOR pathway(s) and hyperosmotic signalling will improve our understanding about the contribution of cell hydration changes in health and disease and will provide further rationale for fluid therapy of insulin-resistant states.

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