mTORC1 Activates SREBP-2 through Maintenance of Endosomal Cycling and Suppression of Autophagy
The mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is known to regulate lipogenesis through sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs), master regulators of cholesterol and fatty acid synthesis. Through an incompletely understood mechanism, mTORC1 triggers translocation of SREBPs, an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) resident protein, to the Golgi, where mature SREBP is proteolytically produced to activate transcription of lipogenic genes. Low ER cholesterol is a well-known trigger for
... wn trigger for SREBPs activation, which includes translocation, maturation, and transcriptional activation. The study investigated whether mTORC1 activates SREBP by limiting cholesterol delivery to the ER. The findings indicate an increase in mTORC1 activity is accompanied by lower ER cholesterol and by SREBP-2 activation, a transcription factor primarily responsible for cholesterol synthesis. A decrease in mTORC1 activity, on another hand, coincides with higher ER cholesterol and lower SERBP-2 activity. I further report that this ER cholesterol is of lysosomal origin, as blocking the exit of cholesterol from lysosomes by U18666A or NPC1 siRNA prevents ER cholesterol from rising and, consequently, SREBP-2 is activated without mTORC1 activation. I identified two membrane trafficking processes, triggered by low mTORC1 activity, supply the lysosomes with cholesterol: autophagy and re-routing of endosomes to lysosomes. Indeed, a dual blockade by Atg5-/- and rab5 kept the ER cholesterol low even when mTORC1 activity was low, and resulted in SREBP-2 activation. Conversely, over-expressing Atg7, which forces autophagy, raises the ER cholesterol and suppresses SREBP-2 activity even when mTORC1 activity is high. Thus, it can be concluded that mTORC1 actively suppresses the formation of autophagosomes and promotes endosomal recycling, both of which prevents cholesterol to reach the lysosomes, thereby reducing cholesterol levels in the ER and activating SREBP-2.