Activating the translational repressor 4E-BP or reducing S6K-GSK3β activity prevents accelerated axon growth induced by hyperactive mTOR in vivo

Hum Mol Genet. 2015 Oct 15;24(20):5746-58. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddv295. Epub 2015 Jul 28.


Abnormal axonal connectivity and hyperactive mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) are shared features of several neurological disorders. Hyperactive mTORC1 alters axon length and polarity of hippocampal neurons in vitro, but the impact of hyperactive mTORC1 on axon growth in vivo and the mechanisms underlying those effects remain unclear. Using in utero electroporation during corticogenesis, we show that increasing mTORC1 activity accelerates axon growth without multiple axon formation. This was prevented by counteracting mTORC1 signaling through p70S6Ks (S6K1/2) or eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein (4E-BP1/2), which both regulate translation. In addition to regulating translational targets, S6K1 indirectly signals through GSK3β, a regulator of axogenesis. Although blocking GSK3β activity did not alter axon growth under physiological conditions in vivo, blocking it using a dominant-negative mutant or lithium chloride prevented mTORC1-induced accelerated axon growth. These data reveal the contribution of translational and non-translational downstream effectors such as GSK3β to abnormal axon growth in neurodevelopmental mTORopathies and open new therapeutic options for restoring long-range connectivity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cell Growth Processes
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factors
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / genetics
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Male
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Mice
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism*
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism*
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 90-kDa / genetics
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 90-kDa / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Eif4ebp1 protein, mouse
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factors
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Phosphoproteins
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • mTOR protein, mouse
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Gsk3b protein, mouse
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Ribosomal Protein S6 Kinases, 90-kDa
  • Rps6ka1 protein, mouse
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3