mTORC1 (mammalian target of rampamycin complex 1) is a highly conserved protein complex regulating cell growth and metabolism via its kinase mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin). The activity of mTOR is under the control of various GTPases, of which Rheb and the Rags play a central role. The presence of amino acids is a strict requirement for mTORC1 activity. The heterodimeric Rag GTPases localize mTORC1 to lysosomes by their amino-acid-dependent interaction with the lysosomal Ragulator complex. Rheb is also thought to reside on lysosomes to activate mTORC1. Rheb is responsive to growth factors, but, in conjunction with PLD1 (phospholipase D1), is also an integral part of the machinery that stimulates mTORC1 in response to amino acids. In the present article, we provide a brief overview of novel mechanisms by which amino acids affect the function of Rags. On the basis of existing literature, we postulate that Rheb is activated at the Golgi from where it will travel to lysosomes. Maturation of endosomes into lysosomes may be required to assure a continuous supply of GTP-bound Rheb for mTORC1 activation, which may help to drive the maturation process.

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