Amino acid–insensitive mTORC1 regulation enables nutritional stress resilience in hematopoietic stem cells

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Abstract

The mTOR pathway is a critical determinant of cell persistence and growth wherein mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) mediates a balance between growth factor stimuli and nutrient availability. Amino acids or glucose facilitates mTORC1 activation by inducing RagA GTPase recruitment of mTORC1 to the lysosomal outer surface, enabling activation of mTOR by the Ras homolog Rheb. Thereby, RagA alters mTORC1-driven growth in times of nutrient abundance or scarcity. Here, we have evaluated differential nutrient-sensing dependence through RagA and mTORC1 in hematopoietic progenitors, which dynamically drive mature cell production, and hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), which provide a quiescent cellular reserve. In nutrient-abundant conditions, RagA-deficient HSC were functionally unimpaired and upregulated mTORC1 via nutrient-insensitive mechanisms. RagA was also dispensable for HSC function under nutritional stress conditions. Similarly, hyperactivation of RagA did not affect HSC function. In contrast, RagA deficiency markedly altered progenitor population function and mature cell output. Therefore, RagA is a molecular mechanism that distinguishes the functional attributes of reactive progenitors from a reserve stem cell pool. The indifference of HSC to nutrient sensing through RagA contributes to their molecular resilience to nutritional stress, a characteristic that is relevant to organismal viability in evolution and in modern HSC transplantation approaches.

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