This research paper addresses the hypothesis that RagD is a key signalling factor that regulates amino acid (AA) mediated-casein synthesis and cell proliferation in cow mammary epithelial cells (CMECs). The expression of RagD was analysed at different times during pregnancy and lactation in bovine mammary tissue from dairy cows. We showed that expression of RagD at lactation period was higher (P < 0·05) than that at pregnancy period. When CMECs were treated with methionine (Met) or lysine (Lys), expression of RagD, β-casein (CSN2), mTOR and p-mTOR, and cell proliferation were increased. Further, when CMECs were treated to overexpress RagD, expression of CSN2, mTOR and p-mTOR, and cell proliferation were up-regulated. Furthermore, the increase in expression of CSN2, mTOR and p-mTOR, and cell proliferation in response to Met or Lys supply was inhibited by inhibiting RagD, and those effects were reversed in the overexpression model. When CMECs were treated with RagD overexpression together with mTOR inhibition or conversely with RagD inhibition together with mTOR overexpression, results showed that the increase in expression of CSN2 and cell proliferation in response to RagD overexpression was prevented by inhibiting mTOR, and those effects were reversed by overexpressing mTOR. The interaction of RagD with subunit proteins of mTORC1 was analysed, and the result showed that RagD interacted with Raptor. CMECs were treated with Raptor inhibition, and the result showed that the increase in expression of mTOR and p-mTOR in response to RagD overexpression was inhibited by inhibiting Raptor.
In conclusion, our study showed that RagD is an important activation factor of mTORC1 in CMECs, activating AA-mediated casein synthesis and cell proliferation, potentially acting via Raptor.