Nitrogen Source Activates TOR Complex 1 via Glutamine and Independently of Gtr/Rag [Metabolism]

July 25th, 2014 by Stracka, D., Jozefczuk, S., Rudroff, F., Sauer, U., Hall, M. N.

The evolutionary conserved TOR complex 1 (TORC1) activates cell growth in response to nutrients. In yeast, TORC1 responds to the nitrogen source via a poorly understood mechanism. Leucine, and perhaps other amino acids, activates TORC1 via the small GTPases Gtr1 and Gtr2, orthologs of the mammalian Rag GTPases. Here we investigate the activation of TORC1 by the nitrogen source and how this might be related to TORC1 activation by Gtr/Rag. The quality of the nitrogen source, as defined by its ability to promote growth and glutamine accumulation, directly correlates with its ability to activate TORC1 as measured by Sch9 phosphorylation. Preferred nitrogen sources stimulate rapid, sustained Sch9 phosphorylation and glutamine accumulation. Inhibition of glutamine synthesis reduces TORC1 activity and growth. Poor nitrogen sources stimulate rapid but transient Sch9 phosphorylation. A Gtr1 deficiency prevents the transient stimulation of TORC1 but does not affect the sustained TORC1 activity in response to good nitrogen sources. These findings suggest that the nitrogen source must be converted to glutamine, the preferred nitrogen source in yeast, to sustain TORC1 activity. Furthermore, sustained TORC1 activity is independent of Gtr/Rag. Thus, the nitrogen source and Gtr/Rag activate TORC1 via different mechanisms.