Scientists elucidated the architecture of cellular control center mTORC2

The architecture of the human mTORC2 core complex.

Illustration of the mTORC2 architecture: The mTOR protein is highlighted in red. mTORC2 specific accessory proteins are colored cyan
Illustration of the mTORC2 architecture: The mTOR protein is highlighted in red. mTORC2 specific accessory proteins are colored cyan. (Image: Christopher H.S. Aylett)

The protein complex mTORC2 controls cell lipid and sugar digestion. Specialists from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel and the ETH Zurich have now prevailed with regards to interpreting the 3D structure of this essential protein complex.

The protein complex mTORC2 assumes an essential part in the control of cell digestion. It animates, for instance, the creation of lipids and unsaturated fats, however, it additionally controls sugar digestion. Previously, considers have demonstrated that mTORC2 elevates tumor development because of expanded lipid creation and that it is engaged in the improvement of diabetes.

The term mTORC2 gets from the way that two such edifices exist in the cell. The two buildings, mTORC1 and mTORC2, are made out of various proteins, with the protein mTOR – “Focus of Rapamycin” – as the central component.

Scientists have been able to visualize the three-dimensional structure of the mTORC2 protein complex in its assembled state.

Prof. Timm Maier said, “For the first time, we have obtained a 3D image of mTORC2 at intermediate resolution. This picture not only reveals the basic shape of the complex, but also the interaction sites of accessory proteins with mTOR. The two complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, are distinguished by accessory partner proteins of mTOR. This explains why the protein mTOR in its two complexes can perform distinct tasks in the cell.”

“The mTORC2 protein complex is one of the largest structures in the cell. It is about twenty times larger than a typical protein. But despite its size, it is still quite flexible and dynamic. Its individual components move in different directions. Therefore, it was quite challenging to obtain a good quality 3D image of its structure.”

“mTORC1 and mTORC2 signaling are linked to many diseases, but up to now, there are no specific mTORC2 inhibitors available. The structural insights may facilitate the search for such drugs.”

The results have recently been published in the journal “eLife”.