TOR (target of rapamycin), an evolutionarily-conserved serine/threonine kinase, acts as a central regulator of cell growth, proliferation and survival in response to nutritional status, growth factor, and stress signals. It plays a crucial role in coordinating the balance between cell growth and cell death, depending on cellular conditions and needs. As such, TOR has been identified as a key modulator of autophagy for more than a decade, and several deregulations of this pathway have been implicated in a variety of pathological disorders, including cancer. At the molecular level, autophagy regulates several survival or death signaling pathways that may decide the fate of cancer cells; however, the relationship between autophagy pathways and cancer are still nascent. In this review, we discuss the recent cellular signaling pathways regulated by TOR, their interconnections to autophagy, and the clinical implications of TOR inhibitors in cancer.
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