mTORC1 senses nutrients and growth factors and phosphorylates downstream targets, including the transcription factor TFEB, to coordinate metabolic supply and demand. These functions position mTORC1 as a central controller of cellular homeostasis, but the behavior of this system in individual cells has not been well characterized. Here, we provide measurements necessary to refine quantitative models for mTORC1 as a metabolic controller. We developed a series of fluorescent protein-TFEB fusions and a multiplexed immunofluorescence approach to investigate how combinations of stimuli jointly regulate mTORC1 signaling at the single-cell level. Live imaging of individual MCF10A cells confirmed that mTORC1-TFEB signaling responds continuously to individual, sequential, or simultaneous treatment with amino acids and the growth factor insulin. Under physiologically relevant concentrations of amino acids, we observe correlated fluctuations in TFEB, AMPK, and AKT signaling that indicate continuous activity adjustments to nutrient availability. Using partial least squares regression modeling, we show that these continuous gradations are connected to protein synthesis rate via a distributed network of mTORC1 effectors, providing quantitative support for the qualitative model of mTORC1 as a homeostatic controller and clarifying its functional behavior within individual cells.
The following files contain the per-cell fluorescence intensity data, extracted from microscope image data, that were used to generate each figure in the paper:Sparta2023_Figure1_SourceData1.xlsSparta2023_Figure1_SourceData2.xlsSparta2023_Figure2_SourceData1.xlsxSparta2023_Figure3_SourceData1.xlsSparta2023_Figure4_SourceData1.xlsxSparta2023_Figure4_SourceData2.xlsxSparta2023_Figure4_SourceData3.xlsxSparta2023_Figure4_SourceData4.xlsxSparta2023_Figure4_SourceData5.xlsxSparta2023_Figure4_SourceData6.xlsxSparta2023_Figure5_SourceData1.xlsxSparta2023_Figure5_SourceData2.xlsxSparta2023_Figure5_SourceData3.xlsxSparta2023_Figure5_SourceData4.xlsxSparta2023_Figure6_SourceData1.xlsx
- John G Albeck
- John G Albeck
- John G Albeck
- Nicholaus DeCuzzi
- Breanne Sparta
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Ivan Topisirovic, Jewish General Hospital, Canada
- Received: October 21, 2021
- Accepted: September 11, 2023
- Accepted Manuscript published: September 12, 2023 (version 1)
© 2023, Sparta et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Cell-generated forces play a major role in coordinating the large-scale behavior of cell assemblies, in particular during development, wound healing, and cancer. Mechanical signals propagate faster than biochemical signals, but can have similar effects, especially in epithelial tissues with strong cell–cell adhesion. However, a quantitative description of the transmission chain from force generation in a sender cell, force propagation across cell–cell boundaries, and the concomitant response of receiver cells is missing. For a quantitative analysis of this important situation, here we propose a minimal model system of two epithelial cells on an H-pattern (‘cell doublet’). After optogenetically activating RhoA, a major regulator of cell contractility, in the sender cell, we measure the mechanical response of the receiver cell by traction force and monolayer stress microscopies. In general, we find that the receiver cells show an active response so that the cell doublet forms a coherent unit. However, force propagation and response of the receiver cell also strongly depend on the mechano-structural polarization in the cell assembly, which is controlled by cell–matrix adhesion to the adhesive micropattern. We find that the response of the receiver cell is stronger when the mechano-structural polarization axis is oriented perpendicular to the direction of force propagation, reminiscent of the Poisson effect in passive materials. We finally show that the same effects are at work in small tissues. Our work demonstrates that cellular organization and active mechanical response of a tissue are key to maintain signal strength and lead to the emergence of elasticity, which means that signals are not dissipated like in a viscous system, but can propagate over large distances.
Eukaryotic cells control inorganic phosphate to balance its role as essential macronutrient with its negative bioenergetic impact on reactions liberating phosphate. Phosphate homeostasis depends on the conserved INPHORS signaling pathway that utilizes inositol pyrophosphates and SPX receptor domains. Since cells synthesize various inositol pyrophosphates and SPX domains bind them promiscuously, it is unclear whether a specific inositol pyrophosphate regulates SPX domains in vivo, or whether multiple inositol pyrophosphates act as a pool. In contrast to previous models, which postulated that phosphate starvation is signaled by increased production of the inositol pyrophosphate 1-IP7, we now show that the levels of all detectable inositol pyrophosphates of yeast, 1-IP7, 5-IP7, and 1,5-IP8, strongly decline upon phosphate starvation. Among these, specifically the decline of 1,5-IP8 triggers the transcriptional phosphate starvation response, the PHO pathway. 1,5-IP8 inactivates the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor Pho81 through its SPX domain. This stimulates the cyclin-dependent kinase Pho85-Pho80 to phosphorylate the transcription factor Pho4 and repress the PHO pathway. Combining our results with observations from other systems, we propose a unified model where 1,5-IP8 signals cytosolic phosphate abundance to SPX proteins in fungi, plants, and mammals. Its absence triggers starvation responses.