Glowing yellow dots mark where lysosomes (red) on beads in this preparation bind to the regulatory mTORC1 protein (green). But this binding occurs only when amino acids are present, which is the key to the regulatory influence of lysosomes.
Trash collectors in the cell moonlight at the controls of the genetic machinery
Esther Landhuis, Quanta Magazine
At a conference in Maine during the summer of 2008, the biochemist David Sabatini stood before an audience of his peers, prepared to dazzle them with a preview of unpublished results emerging from his lab at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The presentation did not go over well. His group was studying mTOR, a cellular enzyme he and colleagues had discovered more than a decade earlier. Among other things, they had tried to find out where mTOR aggregates inside cells, since this seemed likely to help explain the enzyme’s remarkable but mysterious influence over diverse cellular growth processes. Sabatini proudly projected a slide with the team’s findings, showing the enzyme arrayed along the surface of the organelles called lysosomes.
The audience was dubious. “People literally got up and said, ‘David, that’s the trash bin of the cell. It doesn’t make sense. Why decorate the outside of a trash can?” Sabatini recalled.
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