mTOR signalling, embryogenesis and the control of lung development

Stephen C. Land (Lead / Corresponding author), Claire L. Scott, David Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
193 Downloads (Pure)


The existence of a nutrient sensitive "autocatakinetic" regulator of embryonic tissue growth has been hypothesised since the early 20th century, beginning with pioneering work on the determinants of foetal size by the Australian physiologist, Thorburn Brailsford-Robertson. We now know that the mammalian target of rapamycin complexes (mTORC1 and 2) perform this essential function in all eukaryotic tissues by balancing nutrient and energy supply during the first stages of embryonic cleavage, the formation of embryonic stem cell layers and niches, the highly specified programmes of tissue growth during organogenesis and, at birth, paving the way for the first few breaths of life. This review provides a synopsis of the role of the mTOR complexes in each of these events, culminating in an analysis of lung branching morphogenesis as a way of demonstrating the central role mTOR in defining organ structural complexity. We conclude that the mTOR complexes satisfy the key requirements of a nutrient sensitive growth controller and can therefore be considered as Brailsford-Robertson's autocatakinetic centre that drives tissue growth programmes during foetal development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-78
Number of pages11
JournalSeminars in Cell & Developmental Biology
Early online date5 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Branching morphogenesis
  • Cardio-pulmonary system
  • Embryonic growth
  • Fertilisation
  • Hypoxia inducible factor
  • Sprouty2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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