Mutations in genes encoding either hamartin [TSC1 (tuberous sclerosis complex 1)] or tuberin (TSC2) result in a multisystem disorder characterized by the development of benign tumours and hamartomas in several organs. The TSC1 and TSC2 proteins form a complex that lies at the crossroad of many signalling pathways integrating the energy status of the cell with signals induced by nutrients and growth factors. The TSC1/2 complex is a critical negative regulator of mTORC1 [mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) complex 1], and by that controls anabolic processes to promote cell growth, proliferation and survival. In the present paper, we review recent evidence highlighting the notion that the TSC1/2 complex simultaneously controls mTOR-dependent and mTOR-independent signals critical for the balancing of cell proliferation and cell death.

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