Chronic mTORC1 inhibition rescues behavioral and biochemical deficits resulting from neuronal Depdc5 loss in mice

Hum Mol Genet. 2019 Sep 1;28(17):2952-2964. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddz123.


DEPDC5 is now recognized as one of the genes most often implicated in familial/inherited focal epilepsy and brain malformations. Individuals with pathogenic variants in DEPDC5 are at risk for epilepsy, associated neuropsychiatric comorbidities and sudden unexplained death in epilepsy. Depdc5flox/flox-Syn1Cre (Depdc5cc+) neuronal-specific Depdc5 knockout mice exhibit seizures and neuronal mTORC1 hyperactivation. It is not known if Depdc5cc+ mice have a hyperactivity/anxiety phenotype, die early from terminal seizures or whether mTOR inhibitors rescue DEPDC5-related seizures and associated comorbidities. Herein, we report that Depdc5cc+ mice were hyperactive in open-field testing but did not display anxiety-like behaviors on the elevated-plus maze. Unlike many other mTOR-related models, Depdc5cc+ mice had minimal epileptiform activity and rare seizures prior to seizure-induced death, as confirmed by video-EEG monitoring. Treatment with the mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin starting after 3 weeks of age significantly prolonged the survival of Depdc5cc+ mice and partially rescued the behavioral hyperactivity. Rapamycin decreased the enlarged brain size of Depdc5cc+ mice with corresponding decrease in neuronal soma size. Loss of Depdc5 led to a decrease in the other GATOR1 protein levels (NPRL2 and NPRL3). Rapamycin failed to rescue GATOR1 protein levels but rather rescued downstream mTORC1 hyperactivity as measured by phosphorylation of S6. Collectively, our data provide the first evidence of behavioral alterations in mice with Depdc5 loss and support mTOR inhibition as a rational therapeutic strategy for DEPDC5-related epilepsy in humans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / genetics
  • Epilepsy / mortality
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / deficiency*
  • Genes, Lethal
  • Genetic Association Studies* / methods
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genotype
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology


  • Depdc5 protein, mouse
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex 1
  • Sirolimus