I have mentioned mTOR as one of the main aging genes on multiple occasions. It’s about time I tell you what it is, what it does and why it is so important in aging.
mTOR has a little m in front of TOR, which means I am speaking about mammals. It technically means «mechanistic» TOR, but think of it as the molecule that mice and all of us have, whereas in worms is it just TOR.
mTOR gene produces one mTOR protein that can act in two pretty different ways. mTOR does so, because it forms two complexes with other molecules. These complexes are called mTORC1 and mTORC2. Yeah, I know, it’s a lot of letters, but C1 and C2 stand for «complex 1» and «complex 2», so it kinda makes sense.
So, how are these complexes different? For starters, they have different proteins that are part of the complexes, and these differences define the drastic variance in functions.
mTOR is one of the most studies genes that the scientists have known about for decades, however we still don’t know much about how those complexes react to different signals in the cells, especially mTORC2. We know much more about what the first complex does, but not really a lot about the second complex. This is not good, because both of them play a huge, enormous role in aging and in age-related disease like cancer and metabolic disorders like diabetes.