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Recent years have observed significant advances in our understanding of how the serine/threonine kinase target of rapamycin (TOR) controls key cellular processes such as cell survival, growth and proliferation. Consistent with its role in cell proliferation, the mTOR pathway is frequently hyperactivated in a number of human malignancies and is thus considered to be an attractive target for anti-cancer therapy. Rapamycin and its analogs (rapalogs) function as allosteric inhibitors of mTORC1 and are currently used in the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma. Rapamycin and its derivatives bind to the small immunophilin FKBP12 to inhibit mTORC1 signalling through a poorly understood mechanism. Rapamycin/FKBP12 efficiently inhibit some, but not all, functions of mTOR and hence much interest has been placed in the development of drugs that target the kinase activity of mTOR directly. Several novel active-site inhibitors of mTOR, which inhibit both mTORC1 and mTORC2, were developed in the last year. In this manuscript, we provide a brief outline of our current understanding of the mTOR signalling pathway and review the molecular underpinnings of the action of rapamycin and novel active-site mTOR inhibitors as well as potential advantages and caveats associated with the use of these drugs in the treatment of cancer. Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Ryan J O Dowling, Ivan Topisirovic, Bruno D Fonseca, Nahum Sonenberg. Dissecting the role of mTOR: lessons from mTOR inhibitors. Biochimica et biophysica acta. 2010 Mar;1804(3):433-9

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PMID: 20005306

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