Michael N. Hall

Thursday, 15 February 2018 at 11:00 | Large Operon, EMBL Heidelberg

Michael Hall | Biozentrum, University of Basel (CHE)

Host: Matthias Hentze, Director's Research


mTOR signaling in growth and metabolism

TOR (target of rapamycin) is a highly conserved serine/threonine kinase that controls cell growth and metabolism in response to nutrients, growth factors, and cellular energy. TOR was originally discovered in yeast but is conserved in all eukaryotes including plants, worms, flies, and mammals. TOR is found in two structurally and functionally distinct multiprotein complexes termed TORC1 and TORC2. The two TOR complexes, like TOR itself, are highly conserved. Thus, the two TOR complexes constitute an ancestral signaling network conserved throughout eukaryotic evolution to control the fundamental process of cell growth. As a central controller of cell growth, TOR plays a key role in development and aging, and is implicated in disorders such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.
While the role of TOR in controlling growth of single cells is relatively well understood, the challenge now is to understand the role of TOR signaling in disease and in coordinating and integrating overall body growth and metabolism in multicellular organisms. This will require elucidating the role of TOR signaling in individual tissues. Data on the role of mammalian TORC1 (mTORC1) and mTORC2 in controlling cellular processes and in specific tissues will be presented.


Michael N. Hall was born (1953) in Puerto Rico and grew up in South America (Venezuela and Peru). He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Pasteur Institute (Paris, France) and the University of California, San Francisco. He joined the Biozentrum of the University of Basel (Switzerland) in 1987 where he is currently Professor and former Chair of Biochemistry. Hall is a pioneer in the fields of TOR signaling and cell growth control. In 1991, Hall and colleagues discovered TOR (Target of Rapamycin) and subsequently elucidated its role as a central controller of cell growth and metabolism. TOR is a highly conserved, nutrient- and insulin-activated protein kinase. The discovery of TOR led to a fundamental change in how one thinks of cell growth. It is not a spontaneous process that just happens when building blocks (nutrients) are available, but rather a highly regulated, plastic process controlled by TOR-dependent signaling pathways. As a central controller of cell growth and metabolism, TOR plays a key role in development and aging, and is implicated in disorders such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Hall is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, has received numerous awards, including the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine (2009), the Marcel Benoist Prize for Sciences or Humanities (2012), the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2014), the Canada Gairdner International Award (2015), and the Albert Lasker Award (2017), and has served on several editorial and scientific advisory boards.