Metabolite and nutrient sensing by signaling pathways
The ability to sense metabolites and nutrients is one of the most fundamental properties of all organisms and cells, that has allowed for the adaptation, survival and thriving of species in different environmental and cellular conditions. Metabolite-sensing systems allow for proper communication and calibration of cellular signaling and metabolic status. A classic example is the ability of the protein kinase mTORC1 to sense and integrate signals from growth factors, cellular amino acid levels, and energy status to couple anabolic processes with nutrient and energy availability. In addition to the aforementioned inputs, we recently discovered that adenine nucleotides can also be sensed by mTORC1, but the key sensor(s) that relay this information remain to be identified (Hoxhaj et al., Cell Reports 2017).
Our laboratory is interested in studying how cells sense key metabolites and nutrients. We seek fundamental insights into how nutrient availability and metabolite sensing are coordinated with signaling networks for metabolic control, not only in physiological settings, but also in disease settings, where such coordination is lost.