Regulation of mTOR Signaling: Emerging Role of Cyclic Nucleotide-Dependent Protein Kinases and Implications for Cardiometabolic Disease

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Jul 15;24(14):11497. doi: 10.3390/ijms241411497.


The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase is a central regulator of cell growth and metabolism. It is the catalytic subunit of two distinct large protein complexes, mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) and mTORC2. mTOR activity is subjected to tight regulation in response to external nutrition and growth factor stimulation. As an important mechanism of signaling transduction, the 'second messenger' cyclic nucleotides including cAMP and cGMP and their associated cyclic nucleotide-dependent kinases, including protein kinase A (PKA) and protein kinase G (PKG), play essential roles in mediating the intracellular action of a variety of hormones and neurotransmitters. They have also emerged as important regulators of mTOR signaling in various physiological and disease conditions. However, the mechanism by which cAMP and cGMP regulate mTOR activity is not completely understood. In this review, we will summarize the earlier work establishing the ability of cAMP to dampen mTORC1 activation in response to insulin and growth factors and then discuss our recent findings demonstrating the regulation of mTOR signaling by the PKA- and PKG-dependent signaling pathways. This signaling framework represents a new non-canonical regulation of mTOR activity that is independent of AKT and could be a novel mechanism underpinning the action of a variety of G protein-coupled receptors that are linked to the mTOR signaling network. We will further review the implications of these signaling events in the context of cardiometabolic disease, such as obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and cardiac remodeling. The metabolic and cardiac phenotypes of mouse models with targeted deletion of Raptor and Rictor, the two essential components for mTORC1 and mTORC2, will be summarized and discussed.

Keywords: PKA; PKG; Raptor; Rictor; cAMP; cGMP; cardiac hypertrophy; fatty liver disease; mTOR; obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases*
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 / metabolism
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 2 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Multiprotein Complexes* / metabolism
  • Nucleotides, Cyclic / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Rapamycin-Insensitive Companion of mTOR Protein / metabolism
  • Sirolimus*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases* / metabolism


  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 2
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Nucleotides, Cyclic
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Rapamycin-Insensitive Companion of mTOR Protein
  • Sirolimus
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding. F.S. is supported by the American Heart Association Career Development Award 23CDA1048341.