TSC-insensitive Rheb mutations induce oncogenic transformation through a combination of constitutively active mTORC1 signalling and proteome remodelling

Jianling Xie, Stuart P. De Poi, Sean J. Humphrey, Leanne K. Hein, John B. Bruning, Wenru Pan, Luke A. Selth, Timothy J. Sargeant, Christopher G. Proud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is an important regulator of cellular metabolism that is commonly hyperactivated in cancer. Recent cancer genome screens have identified multiple mutations in Ras-homolog enriched in brain (Rheb), the primary activator of mTORC1 that might act as driver oncogenes by causing hyperactivation of mTORC1. Here, we show that a number of recurrently occurring Rheb mutants drive hyperactive mTORC1 signalling through differing levels of insensitivity to the primary inactivator of Rheb, tuberous sclerosis complex. We show that two activated mutants, Rheb-T23M and E40K, strongly drive increased cell growth, proliferation and anchorage-independent growth resulting in enhanced tumour growth in vivo. Proteomic analysis of cells expressing the mutations revealed, surprisingly, that these two mutants promote distinct oncogenic pathways with Rheb-T23M driving an increased rate of anaerobic glycolysis, while Rheb-E40K regulates the translation factor eEF2 and autophagy, likely through differential interactions with 5′ AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) which modulate its activity. Our findings suggest that unique, personalized, combination therapies may be utilised to treat cancers according to which Rheb mutant they harbour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4035-4052
Number of pages18
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Apr 2021


  • AMPK
  • PKM
  • Rheb
  • TSC
  • eEF2
  • mTOR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology

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