mTORC1 and mTORC2 have largely distinct functions in Purkinje cells

Eur J Neurosci. 2015 Oct;42(8):2595-612. doi: 10.1111/ejn.13051. Epub 2015 Sep 18.


The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a key regulator of cellular growth which associates with other proteins to form two multi-protein complexes called mTORC1 and mTORC2. Dysregulation of mTORC1 signalling in brain is implicated in neuropathological conditions such as autism spectrum or neurodegenerative disorders. Accordingly, allosteric mTOR inhibitors are currently in clinical trials for the treatment of such disorders. Here, we ablated either mTORC1 or mTORC2 conditionally in Purkinje cells of the mouse cerebellum to dissect their role in the development, function and survival of these neurons. We find that the two mouse models largely differ from each other by phenotype and cellular responses. Inactivation of mTORC2, but not of mTORC1, led to motor coordination deficits at an early age. This phenotype correlated with developmental deficits in climbing fibre elimination and impaired dendritic self-avoidance in mTORC2-deficient Purkinje cells. In contrast, inactivation of mTORC1, but not of mTORC2, affected social interest of the mice and caused a progressive loss of Purkinje cells due to apoptosis. This cell loss was paralleled by age-dependent motor deficits. Comparison of mTORC1-deficient Purkinje cells with those deficient for the mTORC1 inhibitor TSC1 revealed a striking overlap in Purkinje cell degeneration and death, which included neurofilamentopathy and reactive gliosis. Altogether, our study reveals distinct roles of mTORC1 and mTORC2 in Purkinje cells for mouse behaviour and the survival of neurons. Our study also highlights a convergence between the phenotypes of Purkinje cells lacking mTORC1 activity and those expressing constitutively active mTORC1 due to TSC1 deficiency.

Keywords: TSC1; cerebellum; mouse; raptor; rictor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Ataxia / metabolism
  • Ataxia / pathology
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Gliosis / metabolism
  • Gliosis / pathology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 2
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Multiprotein Complexes / genetics
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Purkinje Cells / pathology
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*
  • Synapses / pathology
  • Synapses / physiology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Tissue Culture Techniques


  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 2
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases