ANA MARQUES-RAMOS et al.
The mechanistic/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a conserved serine/threonine kinase that integrates cellular signals from the nutrient and energy status to act, namely, on the protein synthesis machinery. While major advances have emerged regarding the regulators and effects of the mTOR signaling pathway, little is known about the regulation of mTOR gene expression. Here, we show that the human mTOR transcript can be translated in a cap-independent manner, and that its 5′ untranslated region (UTR) is a highly folded RNA scaffold capable of binding directly to the 40S ribosomal subunit. We further demonstrate that mTOR is able to bypass the cap requirement for translation both in normal and hypoxic conditions. Moreover, our data reveal that the cap-independent translation of mTOR is necessary for its ability to induce cell-cycle progression into S phase. These results suggest a novel regulatory mechanism for mTOR gene expression that integrates the global protein synthesis changes induced by translational inhibitory conditions.