A conformational change in the N terminus of SLC38A9 signals mTORC1 activation.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Structure, Volume 29, Issue 5, p.426-432.e8 (2021)


Amino Acid Transport Systems, Animals, Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1, Molecular Dynamics Simulation, Protein Domains, Sf9 Cells, Signal Transduction, Spodoptera, Zebrafish, Zebrafish Proteins


<p>mTORC1 is a central hub that integrates environmental cues, such as cellular stresses and nutrient availability to modulate metabolism and cellular responses. Recently, SLC38A9, a lysosomal amino acid transporter, emerged as a sensor for luminal arginine and as an activator of mTORC1. The amino acid-mediated activation of mTORC1 is regulated by the N-terminal domain of SLC38A9. Here, we determined the crystal structure of zebrafish SLC38A9 (drSLC38A9) and found the N-terminal fragment inserted deep within the transporter, bound in the substrate-binding pocket where normally arginine would bind. This represents a significant conformational change of the N-terminal domain (N-plug) when compared with our recent arginine-bound structure of drSLC38A9. We propose a ball-and-chain model for mTORC1 activation, where N-plug insertion and Rag GTPase binding with SLC38A9 is regulated by luminal arginine levels. This work provides important insights into nutrient sensing by SLC38A9 to activate the mTORC1 pathways in response to dietary amino acids.</p>