mTORC1-activated S6K1 phosphorylates Rictor on threonine 1135 and regulates mTORC2 signaling.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a conserved Ser/Thr kinase that forms two functionally distinct complexes important for nutrient and growth factor signaling. While mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) regulates mRNA translation and ribosome biogenesis, mTORC2 plays an important role in the phosphorylation and subsequent activation of Akt. Interestingly, mTORC1 negatively regulates Akt activation, but whether mTORC1 signaling directly targets mTORC2 remains unknown. Here we show that growth factors promote the phosphorylation of Rictor (rapamycin-insensitive companion of mTOR), an essential subunit of mTORC2. We found that Rictor phosphorylation requires mTORC1 activity and, more specifically, the p70 ribosomal S6 kinase 1 (S6K1). We identified several phosphorylation sites in Rictor and found that Thr1135 is directly phosphorylated by S6K1 in vitro and in vivo, in a rapamycin-sensitive manner. Phosphorylation of Rictor on Thr1135 did not affect mTORC2 assembly, kinase activity, or cellular localization. However, cells expressing a Rictor T1135A mutant were found to have increased mTORC2-dependent phosphorylation of Akt. In addition, phosphorylation of the Akt substrates FoxO1/3a and glycogen synthase kinase 3 alpha/beta (GSK3 alpha/beta) was found to be increased in these cells, indicating that S6K1-mediated phosphorylation of Rictor inhibits mTORC2 and Akt signaling. Together, our results uncover a new regulatory link between the two mTOR complexes, whereby Rictor integrates mTORC1-dependent signaling.