PLoS pathogens

Influenza virus differentially activates mTORC1 and mTORC2 signaling to maximize late stage replication.

PMID 28953980


Influenza A virus usurps host signaling factors to regulate its replication. One example is mTOR, a cellular regulator of protein synthesis, growth and motility. While the role of mTORC1 in viral infection has been studied, the mechanisms that induce mTORC1 activation and the substrates regulated by mTORC1 during influenza virus infection have not been established. In addition, the role of mTORC2 during influenza virus infection remains unknown. Here we show that mTORC2 and PDPK1 differentially phosphorylate AKT upon influenza virus infection. PDPK1-mediated phoshorylation of AKT at a distinct site is required for mTORC1 activation by influenza virus. On the other hand, the viral NS1 protein promotes phosphorylation of AKT at a different site via mTORC2, which is an activity dispensable for mTORC1 stimulation but known to regulate apoptosis. Influenza virus HA protein and down-regulation of the mTORC1 inhibitor REDD1 by the virus M2 protein promote mTORC1 activity. Systematic phosphoproteomics analysis performed in cells lacking the mTORC2 component Rictor in the absence or presence of Torin, an inhibitor of both mTORC1 and mTORC2, revealed mTORC1-dependent substrates regulated during infection. Members of pathways that regulate mTORC1 or are regulated by mTORC1 were identified, including constituents of the translation machinery that once activated can promote translation. mTORC1 activation supports viral protein expression and replication. As mTORC1 activation is optimal midway through the virus life cycle, the observed effects on viral protein expression likely support the late stages of influenza virus replication when infected cells undergo significant stress.