Mammalian target of rapamycin: a signaling kinase for every aspect of cellular life

Methods Mol Biol. 2012;821:1-14. doi: 10.1007/978-1-61779-430-8_1.


The mammalian (or mechanistic) target of rapamycin (mTOR) is an evolutionarily conserved serine-threonine kinase that is known to sense the environmental and cellular nutrition and energy status. Diverse mitogens, growth factors, and nutrients stimulate the activation of the two mTOR complexes mTORC1 and mTORC2 to regulate diverse functions, such as cell growth, proliferation, development, memory, longevity, angiogenesis, autophagy, and innate as well as adaptive immune responses. Dysregulation of the mTOR pathway is frequently observed in various cancers and in genetic disorders, such as tuberous sclerosis complex or cystic kidney disease. In this review, I will give an overview of the current understanding of mTOR signaling and its role in diverse tissues and cells. Genetic deletion of specific mTOR pathway proteins in distinct tissues and cells broadened our understanding of the cell-specific roles of mTORC1 and mTORC2. Inhibition of mTOR is an established therapeutic principle in transplantation medicine and in cancers, such as renal cell carcinoma. Pharmacological targeting of both mTOR complexes by novel drugs potentially expand the clinical applicability and efficacy of mTOR inhibition in various disease settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy / genetics*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Longevity / genetics
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sirolimus / metabolism*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Transcription Factors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • CRTC2 protein, human
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Sirolimus