Suppression of Akt-mTOR pathway rescued the social behavior in Cntnap2-deficient mice.
ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) form a heterogeneous, neurodevelopmental syndrome characterized by deficits in social interactions and repetitive behavior/restricted interests. Dysregulation of mTOR signaling has been implicated in the pathogenesis of certain types of ASD, and inhibition of mTOR by rapamycin has been demonstrated to be an effective therapeutics for impaired social interaction in Tsc1+/-, Tsc2+/-, Pten-/- mice and valproic acid-induced ASD animal models. However, it is still unknown if dysregulation of mTOR signaling is responsible for the ASD-related deficit caused by other genes mutations. Contactin associated protein-like 2 (CNTNAP2) is the first widely replicated autism-predisposition gene. Mice deficient in Cntnap2 (Cntnap2-/- mice) show core ASD-like phenotypes, and have been demonstrated as a validated model for ASD-relevant drug discovery. In this study, we found hyperactive Akt-mTOR signaling in the hippocampus of Cntnap2-/- mice with RNA sequencing followed with biochemical analysis. Treatment with Akt inhibitor LY294002 or mTOR inhibitor rapamycin rescued the social deficit, but had no effect on hyperactivity and repetitive behavior/restricted behavior in Cntnap2-/- mice. We further showed that the effect of LY294002 and rapamycin on social behaviors is reversible. Our results thus identified hyperactive Akt-mTOR signaling pathway as a therapeutic target for abnormal social behavior in patients with dysfunction of CNTNAP2.
Project description:Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder, featuring social communication deficit and repetitive/restricted behaviors as common symptoms. Its prevalence has continuously increased, but, till now, there are no therapeutic approaches to relieve the core symptoms, particularly social deficit. In previous studies, abnormal function of the glutamatergic neural system has been proposed as a critical mediator and therapeutic target of ASD-associated symptoms. Here, we investigated the possible roles of ?-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptors (AMPARs) in autism symptoms using two well-known autistic animal models, Cntnap2 knockout (KO) mice and in utero valproic acid-exposed ICR (VPA) mice. We found that Cntnap2 KO mice displayed decreased glutamate receptor expression and transmission. Contrarily, VPA mice exhibited increased glutamate receptor expression and transmission. Next, we investigated whether AMPAR modulators (positive-allosteric-modulator for Cntnap2 KO mice and antagonist for VPA mice) can improve autistic symptoms by normalizing the aberrant excitatory transmission in the respective animal models. Interestingly, the AMPAR modulation specifically ameliorated social deficits in both animal models. These results indicated that AMPAR-derived excitatory neural transmission changes can affect normal social behavior. To validate this, we injected an AMPAR agonist or antagonist in control ICR mice and, interestingly, these treatments impaired only the social behavior, without affecting the repetitive and hyperactive behaviors. Collectively, these results provide insight into the role of AMPARs in the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of ASD, and demonstrate that modulation of AMPAR can be a potential target for the treatment of social behavior deficits associated with ASD.
Project description:Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is thought to result from deviation from normal development of neural circuits and synaptic function. Many genes with mutation in ASD patients have been identified. Here we report that two molecules associated with ASD susceptibility, contactin associated protein-like 2 (CNTNAP2) and Abelson helper integration site-1 (AHI1), are required for synaptic function and ASD-related behavior in mice. Knockdown of CNTNAP2 or AHI1 in layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons of the developing mouse prefrontal cortex (PFC) reduced excitatory synaptic transmission, impaired social interaction and induced mild vocalization abnormality. Although the causes of reduced excitatory transmission were different, pharmacological enhancement of AMPA receptor function effectively restored impaired social behavior in both CNTNAP2- and AHI1-knockdown mice. We conclude that reduced excitatory synaptic transmission in layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons of the PFC leads to impaired social interaction and mild vocalization abnormality in mice.
Project description:Developmental alterations of excitatory synapses are implicated in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Here, we report increased dendritic spine density with reduced developmental spine pruning in layer V pyramidal neurons in postmortem ASD temporal lobe. These spine deficits correlate with hyperactivated mTOR and impaired autophagy. In Tsc2 ± ASD mice where mTOR is constitutively overactive, we observed postnatal spine pruning defects, blockade of autophagy, and ASD-like social behaviors. The mTOR inhibitor rapamycin corrected ASD-like behaviors and spine pruning defects in Tsc2 ± mice, but not in Atg7(CKO) neuronal autophagy-deficient mice or Tsc2 ± :Atg7(CKO) double mutants. Neuronal autophagy furthermore enabled spine elimination with no effects on spine formation. Our findings suggest that mTOR-regulated autophagy is required for developmental spine pruning, and activation of neuronal autophagy corrects synaptic pathology and social behavior deficits in ASD models with hyperactivated mTOR.
Project description:The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway plays a crucial role in cell metabolism, growth, and proliferation. The overactivation of mTOR has been implicated in the pathogenesis of syndromic autism spectrum disorder (ASD), such as tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). Treatment with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin improved social interaction deficits in mouse models of TSC. Prenatal exposure to valproic acid (VPA) increases the incidence of ASD. Rodent pups that are exposed to VPA in utero have been used as an animal model of ASD. Activation of the mTOR signaling pathway was recently observed in rodents that were exposed to VPA in utero, and rapamycin ameliorated social interaction deficits. The present study investigated the effect of rapamycin on social interaction deficits in both adolescence and adulthood, and gene expressions in mice that were exposed to VPA in utero. We subcutaneously injected 600?mg/kg VPA in pregnant mice on gestational day 12.5 and used the pups as a model of ASD. The pups were intraperitoneally injected with rapamycin or an equal volume of vehicle once daily for 2 consecutive days. The social interaction test was conducted in the offspring after the last rapamycin administration at 5-6?weeks of ages (adolescence) or 10-11?weeks of age (adulthood). Whole brains were collected after the social interaction test in the adulthood, and microarray and Western blot analyses were performed. Mice that were exposed to VPA and treated with vehicle exhibited a decrease in social interaction compared with control mice that were treated with vehicle. Rapamycin treatment in VPA-exposed mice improved social deficits. Mice that were exposed to VPA and treated with vehicle exhibited the aberrant expression of genes in the mTOR signaling pathway, and rapamycin treatment recovered changes in the expression of some genes, including Fyb and A330094K24Rik. Rapamycin treatment suppressed S6 phosphorylation in VPA-exposed mice. Aberrant gene expression was associated with social interaction deficits in VPA-exposed mice. Rapamycin may be an effective treatment for non-syndromic ASD in adolescent and adult patients who present impairments in the mTOR signaling pathway.
Project description:Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a key regulator in various cellular processes, including cell growth, gene expression, and synaptic functions. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is frequently accompanied by monogenic disorders, such as tuberous sclerosis complex, phosphatase and tensin homolog tumor hamartoma syndrome, neurofibromatosis 1, and fragile X syndrome, in which mTOR is hyperactive. Mutations in the genes involved in the mTOR-mediated signaling pathway have been identified in some cases of syndromic ASD. Evidences indicate a pathogenic role for hyperactive mTOR-mediated signaling in ASD associated with these monogenic disorders, and mTOR inhibitors are a potential pharmacotherapy for ASD. Abnormal synaptic transmission through metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 may underlie in a part of ASD associated with hyperactive mTOR-mediated signaling. In this review, the relationship between mTOR and ASD is discussed.
Project description:Macroautophagy (hereafter referred to as autophagy) plays a critical role in neuronal function related to development and degeneration. Here, we investigated whether autophagy is developmentally regulated in the striatum, a brain region implicated in neurodevelopmental disease. We demonstrate that autophagic flux is suppressed during striatal postnatal development, reaching adult levels around postnatal day 28 (P28). We also find that mTOR signaling, a key regulator of autophagy, increases during the same developmental period. We further show that mTOR signaling is responsible for suppressing autophagy, via regulation of Beclin-1 and VPS34 activity. Finally, we discover that autophagy is downregulated during late striatal postnatal development (P28) in mice with in utero exposure to valproic acid (VPA), an established mouse model of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). VPA-exposed mice also display deficits in striatal neurotransmission and social behavior. Correction of hyperactive mTOR signaling in VPA-exposed mice restores social behavior. These results demonstrate that neurons coopt metabolic signaling cascades to developmentally regulate autophagy and provide additional evidence that mTOR-dependent signaling pathways represent pathogenic signaling cascades in ASD mouse models that are active during specific postnatal windows.
Project description:Males, who are bigger and stronger than females, live shorter in most species from flies to mammals including humans. Cellular mass growth is driven in part by mTOR (Target of Rapamycin). When developmental growth is completed, then, instead of growth, mTOR drives aging, manifested by increased cellular functions, such as hyper-secretion by fibroblasts, thus altering homeostasis, leading to age-related diseases and death. We hypothesize that MTOR activity is elevated in male mice compared with females. Noteworthy, 6 months old males were 28 % heavier than females. Also levels of phosphorylated S6 (pS6) and phospho-AKT (p-AKT, Ser 473), markers of the mTOR activity, were higher in male organs tested. Levels of pS6 were highly variable among mice and correlated with body weight and p-AKT. With age, the difference between levels of pS6 between sexes tended to minimize, albeit males still had hyperactive mTOR. Unlike fasting, the intraperitoneal (i.p.) administration of rapamycin eliminated pS6 in all organs of all females measured by immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry without affecting p-AKT and blood insulin. Although i.p. rapamycin dramatically decreased levels of pS6 in males too, it was still detectable by immunoblotting upon longer exposure. Our study demonstrated that both tissue p-AKT and pS6 were higher in young male mice and were associated with increased body weight and insulin. These data can explain bigger body size and faster aging in males. Our data suggest higher efficacy of rapamycin compared to fasting. Higher sensitivity of females to rapamycin may explain more pronounced life extension by rapamycin observed in females compared to males in several studies.
Project description:Multi-drug resistance leads to the failure of chemotherapy for cancers. Our previous study showed that overexpression of CA916798 led to multi-drug resistance. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. In the current study, we observed that the levels of phosphorylated AKT, phosphorylated mTOR and CA916798 all increased in the drug resistant human adenocarcinoma samples and paralleled with the change of drug resistance. The results of immunofluorescence and Co-IP indicated that the positive correlation of CA916798 expression with AKT1 activation might be associated with drug resistance of lung adenocarcinoma. Furthermore, AKT1 stimulated CA916798 expression through mTOR pathway in both A549 and A549/CDDP cell lines, which was also observed in the xenografted tumor in nude mice. The results showed that CA916798 located in the downstream of PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. Inhibition of PI3K by LY294002 could efficiently reduce CA916798 expression and tumor size in vivo as well. Additionally, LY294002 combined with rapamycin inhibited CA916798 expression and tumor size stronger than LY294002 alone. Our findings may also provide a new explanation for synergistic anti-tumor effects of PI3K and mTORC1 inhibitors.
Project description:Helix B surface peptide (HBSP) is an erythropoietin (EPO)-derived peptide that protects tissue from the risks of elevated blood pressure and thrombosis. This study focused on the protection of HBSP in hepatic ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R) by enhancing the level of autophagy. In detail, we randomly divided C57BL/6 mice into sham-operated, hepatic ischaemia/reperfusion (I/R), I/R?+?HBSP, I/R?+?HBSP?+?3-methyladenine (autophagy inhibitor), I/R?+?HBSP?+?rapamycin (mTOR inhibitor), and I/R?+?HBSP?+?Ly294002 (Akt inhibitor) groups. We assessed alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels in mouse sera, and performed haematoxylin/eosin (HE) staining, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, immunofluorescence microscopy, and western blotting on liver tissue to detect the degree of liver injury, liver apoptosis, autophagy, and the expression of microtubule associated protein 1 light chain 3 alpha (Map1lc3, or LC3), Beclin 1, phospho-mTOR, mTOR, phospho-Akt (P-Akt), and Akt. HBSP relieved hepatic I/R injury in a concentration-independent manner. The expression of LC3II, LC3I, and Beclin 1, and the formation of autophagosomes, in the I/R?+?HBSP group were higher than those in the I/R group. The protective effects of HBSP were abolished by 3-methyladenine and, to a lesser extent, Ly294002, but enhanced by rapamycin. Furthermore, In vivo, HBSP also protected against hypoxia injury induced by cobalt chloride (CoCl2) through improving the level of autophagy. Therefore, HBSP protected against hepatic I/R injury, mainly via regulating autophagy by targeting mTOR.
Project description:The endogenous cannabinoid system participates in oligodendrocyte progenitor differentiation in vitro. To determine the effect of synthetic cannabinoids on oligodendrocyte differentiation, we exposed differentiating cultures of oligodendrocytes with cannabinoid CB(1), CB(2) and CB(1)/CB(2) receptor agonists and antagonists. The response of the PI3K/Akt and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signalling pathways were studied as effectors of cannabinoid activity.Purified oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPC) obtained from primary mixed glial cell cultures were treated for 48 h with CB(1), CB(2) and CB(1) /CB(2) receptor agonists (ACEA, JWH133 and HU210, respectively) in the presence or absence of the antagonists AM281 (CB(1) receptor) and AM630 (CB(2) receptor). Moreover, inhibitors of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and mTOR pathways (LY294002 and rapamycin, respectively) were used to study the involvement of these pathways on cannabinoid-induced OPC maturation.ACEA, JWH133 and HU-210 enhanced OPC differentiation as assessed by the expression of stage specific antigens and myelin basic protein (MBP). Moreover, this effect was blocked by the CB receptor antagonists. ACEA, JWH133 and HU210 induced a time-dependent phosphorylation of Akt and mTOR, whereas the inhibitors of PI3K/Akt (LY294002) or of mTOR (rapamycin) reversed the effects of HU-210 on oligodendrocyte differentiation and kinase activation.Activation of cannabinoid CB(1) or CB(2) receptors with selective agonists accelerated oligodendrocyte differentiation through the mTOR and Akt signalling pathways.