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Hello, my name is David Sabatini.
I'm at the Whitehead Institute and the
MIT Department of Biology as well as part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
I'm going to be talking to you today about the mTOR Kinase and
particularly its role as a potential target for anti-cancer drugs.
I'm going first give you a little bit of introduction into
the role of mTOR in the regulation of growth because it's
normal physiological role which becomes aberrant in human pathologies such as in cancer.
I'll tell you a little bit as well about the discovery and
the function of the mTOR growth pathways.
As you'll see, there's actually two pathways.
So, I think this has been a very interesting area
of signal transduction over the last decade.
So, what do we mean by the control of growth?
This is really the regulation of size in biology and we can think
about the control of size in biology at multiple different biological levels.
For example, the regulation of cell size,
the regulation of organ size, or organismal size.
The TOR pathway, the mTOR pathway as we call it,
in mammalian systems, really regulates size at all these different biological levels.
But today, I'll focus about its role in the control of growth at the level of cell size.
So, what do we mean by cell growth then?
Well, this is the process by which a cell takes nutrients from its environment,
generates the building blocks for cell mass,
as well as the energy sources,
and increases in size.
Clearly, for proliferating cells,
such as cancer cells,
growth must occur before cell division.
Otherwise, the cell would divide itself into oblivion.
In fact, there are ways that you can trick cells into doing this.
However, even though we know that growth and cell division must be coordinated,
we actually know relatively little about what coordinates these two processes,
particularly, in mammalian systems.
If we think about the regulation of cell size in normal physiology in mammals,