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Unraveling the complex signaling that helps cells know when to grow, when to sit tight
Date:10/28/2011

Associate Professor of Immunobiology at Yale University School of Medicine. "This particular study provides one piece of the puzzle to help us understand this complicated signaling process. However, there are many pieces of the puzzles remaining to be found."

Aberrations in the mTOR signaling pathway have been implicated in cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmunity and metabolic disorders. They have also been identified in a phenomenon called the Warburg Effect, which allows cells to grow not only in nutrient-starved conditions but also in the oxygen-deprived environment typically found inside tumors.

A drug called rapamycin, which inhibits mTOR (in fact, its name is an acronym for Mammalian Target of Rapamycin), is being studied as a potential targeted drug for many forms of cancer. But the drug only acts against one of the forms of mTOR, which appears in two complexes: mTORC1 and mTORC2. "A drug that could inhibit both would be better," says Kun-Liang Guan, professor of pharmacology at the University of California at San Diego. "This research found how to get rid of DEPTOR, and maybe provided a way to keep DEPTOR, which would inhibit both."

Designing drugs that target mTOR's complex signaling pathway requires a deep understanding of the subtle molecular interactions that naturally govern the system so that pharmaceutical interventions tug in the right places at the right times. "The more you understand the whole," says Wei, "the better you can design drugs to alter it."


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Contact: Bonnie Prescott
bprescot@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7306
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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