Dynamic modelling of the mTOR signalling network reveals complex emergent behaviours conferred by DEPTOR

Thawfeek M. Varusai, Lan K. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The mechanistic Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) signalling network is an evolutionarily conserved network that controls key cellular processes, including cell growth and metabolism. Consisting of the major kinase complexes mTOR Complex 1 and 2 (mTORC1/2), the mTOR network harbours complex interactions and feedback loops. The DEP domain-containing mTOR-interacting protein (DEPTOR) was recently identified as an endogenous inhibitor of both mTORC1 and 2 through direct interactions, and is in turn degraded by mTORC1/2, adding an extra layer of complexity to the mTOR network. Yet, the dynamic properties of the DEPTOR-mTOR network and the roles of DEPTOR in coordinating mTORC1/2 activation dynamics have not been characterised. Using computational modelling, systems analysis and dynamic simulations we show that DEPTOR confers remarkably rich and complex dynamic behaviours to mTOR signalling, including abrupt, bistable switches, oscillations and co-existing bistable/oscillatory responses. Transitions between these distinct modes of behaviour are enabled by modulating DEPTOR expression alone. We characterise the governing conditions for the observed dynamics by elucidating the network in its vast multi-dimensional parameter space, and develop strategies to identify core network design motifs underlying these dynamics. Our findings provide new systems-level insights into the complexity of mTOR signalling contributed by DEPTOR.

Original languageEnglish
Article number643
Number of pages14
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2018


  • biochemical networks
  • dynamical systems
  • multistability
  • oscillators

Cite this