Phospholipase D1 is an effector of Rheb in the mTOR pathway

Y. Sun, Y. Fang, M. S. Yoon, C. Zhang, M. Roccio, F. J. Zwartkruis, M. Armstrong, H. A. Brown, J. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) assembles a signaling network essential for the regulation of cell growth, which has emerged as a major target of anticancer therapies. The tuberous sclerosis complex 1 and 2 (TSC1/2) proteins and their target, the small GTPase Rheb, constitute a key regulatory pathway upstream of mTOR. Phospholipase D (PLD) and its product phosphatidic acid are also upstream regulators of the mitogenic mTOR signaling. However, how the TSC/Rheb and PLD pathways interact or integrate in the rapamycin-sensitive signaling network has not been examined before. Here, we find that PLD1, but not PLD2, is required for Rheb activation of the mTOR pathway, as demonstrated by the effects of RNAi. The overexpression of Rheb activates PLD1 in cells in the absence of mitogenic stimulation, and the knockdown of Rheb impairs serum stimulation of PLD activation. Furthermore, the overexpression of TSC2 suppresses PLD1 activation, whereas the knockdown or deletion of TSC2 leads to elevated basal activity of PLD. Consistent with a TSC-Rheb-PLD signaling cascade, AMPK and PI3K, both established regulators of TSC2, appear to lie upstream of PLD as revealed by the effects of pharmacological inhibitors, and serum activation of PLD is also dependent on amino acid sufficiency. Finally, Rheb binds and activates PLD1 in vitro in a GTP-dependent manner, strongly suggesting that PLD1 is a bona fide effector for Rheb. Hence, our findings reveal an unexpected interaction between two cascades in the mTOR signaling pathways and open up additional possibilities for targeting this important growth-regulating network for the development of anticancer drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8286-8291
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 17 2008


  • Phosphatidic acid
  • Rapamycin
  • Tuberous sclerosis complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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