The insulin signalling pathway is highly conserved throughout animal evolution and it regulates multiple biological processes including metabolism, tissue growth and longevity.
Due to the high conservation of this pathway, genetic model organisms, such as the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, have been powerful in characterizing new regulators of insulin signalling and elucidating their biological functions.
This study is aimed to study the in vivo role of a potential modulator of the insulin-signalling pathway, TOR (target of rapamycin) complex 2, in Drosophila. The TOR kinase is present in two highly conserved complexes.
While the role of TOR complex 1 in the coordination of tissue growth and nutrient sensing is well established, the function of TOR complex 2 is poorly understood. In cell culture studies, TOR complex 2 has been shown to regulate actin cytoskeleton as well as to phosphorylate AKT/PKB, an effector kinase in insulin signalling pathway.
However, the in vivo role of TOR complex 2 in multicellular organisms has not been addressed. To this end, I have generated flies mutant for rictor, a gene essential for the function of TOR complex 2. Analysis of the rictor mutant flies should provide novel and significant insights into the physiological role of TOR complex 2.
As the function of the insulin signalling pathway is disturbed in diseases such as diabetes and cancer, the results of this study are likely to have ramifications to human health.
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