Ras, PI3K and mTORC2 – three’s a crowd?

Stephen F. Smith, Shannon E. Collins, Pascale G. Charest

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The Ras oncogene is notoriously difficult to target with specific therapeutics. Consequently, there is interest to better understand the Ras signaling pathways to identify potential targetable effectors. Recently, the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2) was identified as an evolutionarily conserved Ras effector. mTORC2 regulates essential cellular processes, including metabolism, survival, growth, proliferation and migration. Moreover, increasing evidence implicate mTORC2 in oncogenesis. Little is known about the regulation of mTORC2 activity, but proposed mechanisms include a role for phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate – which is produced by class I phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases (PI3Ks), well-characterized Ras effectors. Therefore, the relationship between Ras, PI3K and mTORC2, in both normal physiology and cancer is unclear; moreover, seemingly conflicting observations have been reported. Here, we review the evidence on potential links between Ras, PI3K and mTORC2. Interestingly, data suggest that Ras and PI3K are both direct regulators of mTORC2 but that they act on distinct pools of mTORC2: Ras activates mTORC2 at the plasma membrane, whereas PI3K activates mTORC2 at intracellular compartments. Consequently, we propose a model to explain how Ras and PI3K can differentially regulate mTORC2, and highlight the diversity in the mechanisms of mTORC2 regulation, which appear to be determined by the stimulus, cell type, and the molecularly and spatially distinct mTORC2 pools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberjcs234930
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 2
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase
  • Ras GTPase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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