Background: The mammalian target of rapamycin complex 2 (mTORC2), containing the essential protein rictor, regulates cellular metabolism and cytoskeletal organization by phosphorylating protein kinases, such as PKB/Akt, PKC, and SGK. Inactivation of mTORC2 signaling in adult skeletal muscle affects its metabolism, but not muscle morphology and function. However, the role of mTORC2 in adult muscle stem cells (MuSCs) has not been investigated.
Method: Using histological, biochemical, and molecular biological methods, we characterized the muscle phenotype of mice depleted for rictor in the Myf5-lineage (RImyfKO) and of mice depleted for rictor in skeletal muscle fibers (RImKO). The proliferative and myogenic potential of MuSCs was analyzed upon cardiotoxin-induced injury in vivo and in isolated myofibers in vitro.
Results: Skeletal muscle of young and 14-month-old RImyfKO mice appeared normal in composition and function. MuSCs from young RImyfKO mice exhibited a similar capacity to proliferate, differentiate, and fuse as controls. In contrast, the number of MuSCs was lower in young RImyfKO mice than in controls after two consecutive rounds of cardiotoxin-induced muscle regeneration. Similarly, the number of MuSCs in RImyfKO mice decreased with age, which correlated with a decline in the regenerative capacity of mutant muscle. Interestingly, reduction in the number of MuSCs was also observed in 14-month-old RImKO muscle.
Conclusions: Our study shows that mTORC2 signaling is dispensable for myofiber formation, but contributes to the homeostasis of MuSCs. Loss of mTORC2 does not affect their myogenic function, but impairs the replenishment of MuSCs after repeated injuries and their maintenance during aging. These results point to an important role of mTORC2 signaling in MuSC for muscle homeostasis.
Keywords: Muscle regeneration; Muscle stem cells; Rictor; mTORC2.