Expression and distribution of mTOR, p70S6K, 4E-BP1, and their phosphorylated counterparts in rat dorsal root ganglion and spinal cord dorsal horn

Brain Res. 2010 Jun 8;1336:46-57. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2010.04.010. Epub 2010 Apr 24.

Abstract

Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) controls protein translation and has an important role in the mechanism of pain hypersensitivity under persistent pain conditions. However, its expression and localization in pain-related regions of the nervous system is not completely understood. Here, we examined the expression and distribution of mTOR, eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein1/2 (4E-BP1/2), p70 ribosomal S6 protein kinase (p70S6K), and their phosphorylated (active) counterparts in two major pain-related regions, the dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and spinal cord dorsal horn. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction showed that mTOR, 4E-BP1, and p70S6K mRNA are expressed in the DRG and dorsal horn. Western blot analysis further confirmed the existence of their protein products in these two regions, but expression of their phosphorylated counterparts was very low in dorsal horn and was not detected in the DRG. Immunohistochemistry revealed mTOR and p70S6K in the DRG neurons. Quantitative analysis showed that approximately 26.1% (+/- 3.2%) of DRG neurons were positive for mTOR and 19.1% (+/- 1.9%) were positive for p70S6K. Most of these neurons were small-less than 600 microm(2) in cross-sectional area-and some co-labeled with substance P or isolectin B4. Surprisingly, 4E-BP1 was observed only in the DRG satellite glial cells. In the dorsal horn, mTOR, p70S6K, and 4E-BP1 were detected in neurons, but not in astrocytes or microglia. They were distributed in the whole dorsal horn, especially in the superficial dorsal horn. Immunostaining for their phosphorylated counterparts was very low or undetectable in DRG and dorsal horn. Behavioral study showed that intrathecal mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, did not affect acute nocicepetive transmission. The results indicate that although mTOR, p70S6K, and 4E-BP1 are highly expressed in the DRG and dorsal horn, their activate forms are very low in both regions under normal conditions. Our findings support the view that mTOR and its downstream effectors do not play a key role in acute pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carrier Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Pain / metabolism*
  • Phosphoproteins / biosynthesis*
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Phosphorylation
  • Posterior Horn Cells / metabolism*
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / biosynthesis*
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa / biosynthesis*
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa / genetics
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases

Substances

  • Carrier Proteins
  • Eif4ebp1 protein, rat
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • mTOR protein, rat
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 70-kDa
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases