Cell growth is tightly coupled to nutrient availability. The target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase transmits nutritional and environmental cues to the cellular growth machinery. TOR functions in two distinct multiprotein complexes, termed TOR complex 1 (TORC1) and TOR complex 2 (TORC2). While the structure and functions of TORC1 are highly conserved in all eukaryotes, including algae and plants, TORC2 core proteins seem to be missing in photosynthetic organisms. TORC1 controls cell growth by promoting anabolic processes, including protein synthesis and ribosome biogenesis, and inhibiting catabolic processes such as autophagy. Recent studies identified rapamycin-sensitive TORC1 signaling regulating cell growth, autophagy, lipid metabolism, and central metabolic pathways in the model unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
. The central role that microalgae play in global biomass production, together with the high biotechnological potential of these organisms in biofuel production, has drawn attention to the study of proteins that regulate cell growth such as the TOR kinase. In this review we discuss the recent progress on TOR signaling in algae.
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