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Sci. Signal., 16 April 2013
Vol. 6, Issue 271, p. ra24
[DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2003520]


Nutrient Signaling in Protein Homeostasis: An Increase in Quantity at the Expense of Quality

Crystal S. Conn1 and Shu-Bing Qian1,2*

1 Graduate Field of Genetics, Genomics and Development, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
2 Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.

Abstract: The discovery that rapamycin extends the life span of diverse organisms has triggered many studies aimed at identifying the underlying molecular mechanisms. Mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) regulates cell growth and may regulate organismal aging by controlling mRNA translation. However, how inhibiting mTORC1 and decreasing protein synthesis can extend life span remains an unresolved issue. We showed that constitutively active mTORC1 signaling increased general protein synthesis but unexpectedly reduced the quality of newly synthesized polypeptides. We demonstrated that constitutively active mTORC1 decreased translation fidelity by increasing the speed of ribosomal elongation. Conversely, rapamycin treatment restored the quality of newly synthesized polypeptides mainly by slowing the rate of ribosomal elongation. We also found distinct roles for mTORC1 downstream targets in maintaining protein homeostasis. Loss of S6 kinases, but not 4E-BP family proteins, which are both involved in regulation of translation, attenuated the effects of rapamycin on the quality of newly translated proteins. Our results reveal a mechanistic connection between mTORC1 and protein quality, highlighting the central role of nutrient signaling in growth and aging.

* Corresponding author. E-mail: sq38{at}

Citation: C. S. Conn, S.-B. Qian, Nutrient Signaling in Protein Homeostasis: An Increase in Quantity at the Expense of Quality. Sci. Signal. 6, ra24 (2013).

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