Beyond control of protein translation: What we have learned about the non-canonical regulation and function of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR).
Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a serine-threonine kinase involved in almost every aspect of mammalian cell function. This kinase was initially believed to control protein translation in response to amino acids and trophic factors, and this function has become a canonical role for mTOR. However, mTOR can form two separate protein complexes (mTORCs). Recent advances clearly demonstrate that both mTORCs can respond to various stimuli and change myriad cellular processes. Therefore, our current view of the cellular roles of TORCs has rapidly expanded and cannot be fully explained without appreciating recent findings about the new modes of mTOR regulation and identification of non-canonical effectors of mTOR that contribute to transcription, cytoskeleton dynamics, and membrane trafficking. This review discusses the molecular details of these newly discovered non-canonical functions that allow mTORCs to control the cellular environment at multiple levels. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Inhibitors of Protein Kinases (2012). Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier B.V.