The ribosomal protein S6K (S6 kinase) represents an extensively studied effector of the TORC1 [TOR (target of rapamycin) complex 1], which possesses important yet incompletely defined roles in cellular and organismal physiology. TORC1 functions as an environmental sensor by integrating signals derived from diverse environmental cues to promote anabolic and inhibit catabolic cellular functions. mTORC1 (mammalian TORC1) phosphorylates and activates S6K1 and S6K2, whose first identified substrate was rpS6 (ribosomal protein S6), a component of the 40S ribosome. Studies over the past decade have uncovered a number of additional S6K1 substrates, revealing multiple levels at which the mTORC1–S6K1 axis regulates cell physiology. The results thus far indicate that the mTORC1–S6K1 axis controls fundamental cellular processes, including transcription, translation, protein and lipid synthesis, cell growth/size and cell metabolism. In the present review we summarize the regulation of S6Ks, their cellular substrates and functions, and their integration within rapidly expanding mTOR (mammalian TOR) signalling networks. Although our understanding of the role of mTORC1–S6K1 signalling in physiology remains in its infancy, evidence indicates that this signalling axis controls, at least in part, glucose homoeostasis, insulin sensitivity, adipocyte metabolism, body mass and energy balance, tissue and organ size, learning, memory and aging. As dysregulation of this signalling axis contributes to diverse disease states, improved understanding of S6K regulation and function within mTOR signalling networks may enable the development of novel therapeutics.

You do not currently have access to this content.