Nutrient overload induces constitutive S6K1 (S6 kinase 1) activation, which leads to insulin resistance by suppressing insulin-induced class I PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase) signalling [Um, Frigerio, Watanabe, Picard, Joaquin, Sticker, Fumagalli, Allegrini, Kozma, Auwerx and Thomas (2004) Nature 431, 200–205]. This finding gave rise to the question of the mechanism by which nutrients, such as AAs (amino acids), enter the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin)/S6K1 signalling pathway. Counter to the prevailing view, our recent studies have shown that the AA input into the mTOR/S6K1 signalling pathway is not mediated by the tumour suppressor TSC1 (tuberous sclerosis complex 1)/TSC2 or its target, the proto-oncogene Rheb (Ras homologue enriched in brain). Instead, we found that the AA input was mediated by class 3 PI3K, or hVps34 (human vacuolar protein sorting 34). In brief, ectopic expression of hVps34 drives S6K1 activation, but only in the presence of AAs, and this effect is blocked by small interfering RNAs directed against hVps34. Moreover, stimulation of cells with AAs increases hVps34 activity, as indicated by the production of PI3P (phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate). PI3P mediates the recruitment of proteins containing FYVE (Fab1p, YOTB, Vac1p and EEA1) or PX (Phox homology) domains to endosomal membranes, with PI3P-rich micro-domains acting as signalling platforms. Additional evidence indicating hVps34 as the mediator of AA input to S6K1 came from experiments in which S6K1 activation was attenuated by ectopic expression of a cDNA containing two FYVE domains, which bind to PI3P, preventing binding of proteins containing either FYVE or PX domains [Nobukuni, Joaquin, Roccio, Dann, Kim, Gulati, Byfield, Backer, Natt, Bos, Zwartkruis and Thomas (2005) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 102, 14238–14243].

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