Published online Aug 26, 2015. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v7.i7.999
Peer-review started: May 20, 2015
First decision: June 18, 2015
Revised: June 29, 2015
Accepted: July 16, 2015
Article in press: July 18, 2015
Published online: August 26, 2015
Stem cells offer great promise for the treatment of multiple disorders throughout the body. Critical to this premise is the ability to govern stem cell pluripotency, proliferation, and differentiation. The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), 289-kDa serine/threonine protein kinase, that is a vital component of mTOR Complex 1 and mTOR Complex 2 represents a critical pathway for the oversight of stem cell maintenance. mTOR can control the programmed cell death pathways of autophagy and apoptosis that can yield variable outcomes in stem cell survival and be reliant upon proliferative pathways that include Wnt signaling, Wnt1 inducible signaling pathway protein 1 (WISP1), silent mating type information regulation 2 homolog 1 (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) (SIRT1), and trophic factors. mTOR also is a necessary component for the early development and establishment of stem cells as well as having a significant impact in the regulation of the maturation of specific cell phenotypes. Yet, as a proliferative agent, mTOR can not only foster cancer stem cell development and tumorigenesis, but also mediate cell senescence under certain conditions to limit invasive cancer growth. mTOR offers an exciting target for the oversight of stem cell therapies but requires careful consideration of the diverse clinical outcomes that can be fueled by mTOR signaling pathways.
Core tip: Mechanistic target of rapamycin, the mechanistic target of rapamycin, can directly impact stem cell maintenance, proliferation, and differentiation to offer new therapeutic strategies for multiple disease entities.